Monday, August 17, 2009

'Immediate intervention needed to save the IDPs in north Sri Lanka' - PUCL

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PUCL expresses concern about reports from the IDP (Internally Displaced People) Camps in Vavuniya area housing Sri Lankan Tamil about severe flooding of the camps following heavy rains for the last 2 days. PUCL apprehends that the IDP camps will turn into `death traps’ unless urgent measures are taken to safeguard lives of the 300,000 inmates.

Zones 2 (Ramanathan Camp), 3 (Ananda Kumarasamy Camp), 4(No name) of Menik Farm Camps house 65,000, 43,000 and 41,000 inmates respectively. These camps are enclosed by barbed wire from which none can leave without permission of security forces. The camps are constructed in low lying areas susceptible to flooding. Toilets for the inmates are not only inadequate but are also temporary structures oftentimes being mere huge pits dug into the soil. Due to the rains the toilet pits have caved in. As though this is not bad, the toilets have also become full and there is severe water contamination. Flood waters mixed with toilet slush is reportedly flooding the living areas.

Zone 0 and 1 alone are the model zones shown to visiting journalists and diplomats. The habitations are built with tin roofs. Housing in Zones 2,3,4,5 and 6 are made from UN supplied tents shared by 2-3 families, with no privacy.

Supply of cooked food stuffs have been stopped two weeks back. The inmates of these camps have to depend on dry rations and have been forced to have individual kitchens. Due to the rains, the firewood have become wet and unusable. Families are therefore starving.

The red soils of the area have made the camps slushy and unlivable. It is reported that the flood waters are waist deep in some parts posing severe threat to personal safety, health and hygiene. Due to the poor road conditions vehicles are unable to move in the area and thus supply of essential commodities has stopped.

The situation of children and elderly is appalling. Equally horrible is the plight of the injured and handicapped people who are unable to compete with able bodies camp inmates for a share of essential commodities and toilet facilities.

Most NGOs are running out of money and unable to supply food to camps. It is informed that World Food Programme (WFP) is planning to close down its operations in these areas soon.

Epidemics and illnesses due to the poor conditions in the camps and flooding will kill as many as the war did unless the international community steps in and initiates remedial steps on a war footing. The world governments, especially the Government of India have a moral duty to the victims Tamils to ensure that all possible safety measures are initiated.

Government of India has announced that they are going to allocate another tranche of Rs. 500 crores. As members of Indian civil society PUCL demands on behalf of other human rights community that Government of India insist that the IDP camps are shifted to a safer place and all possible remedial measures be undertaken under supervision of Indian groups including experts and independent experts. If this is not done, PUCL fears there will be numerous deaths of Tamils and immense suffering.

Under the circumstances, PUCL urges the Government of India and the International Community to immediately intervene in the administration and running of the IDP camps in Vavuniya region of north Sri Lanka housing close to 300,000 Sri Lankan Tamils affected by the war.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties - (Tamil Nadu & Puducherry)

Released to the Press in Chennai by Dr. V. Suresh, President, PUCL (Tamil Nadu and Puducherry)

Mob: 09444231497

Source -

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