Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Britain will stop funding at Sri Lankan war camps

Britain will stop funding projects at Sri Lankan camps where hundreds of thousands of war-displaced civilians are being held against their will, a minister said Tuesday.

Sri Lanka is holding nearly 300,000 people who fled during the final months of the government's war with Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended in May. The government says it is releasing civilians as fast as it can, but the process is slow because it first needs to screen for people with rebel connections.

Human rights groups have criticized the detentions as an illegal form of collective punishment and warned that the impending monsoon rains could create health crises in the low-lying, congested camps.

Britain's International Development Minister Mike Foster expressed disappointment Tuesday at the progress being made in releasing the displaced and said all British funding being used to run the camps would be pulled _ other than that needed to help with any emergency the rain may cause.

Foster said that $7.1 million out of a total allocation of $20 million for Sri Lanka would be held back and that money will only be released to aid groups engaged in projects that will help people return to their homes.

"What we believe is that post-monsoon, our funding should be allocated to recovery, demining, livelihood programs. It shouldn't be geared toward sustaining people in the camps," Foster said after taking a tour of the centers in the country's north.

"If we continue to fund day to day commitments of running of those camps, there is no incentive for the government to encourage people to leave the camps," he said.

Sri Lanka's government says more than 22,000 people have been resettled from the camps and that it hopes to send everyone home by the end of January.

Between 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed in the war.

© Taiwan News

Related Links:
Britain To Slash Sri Lanka Refugee Aid - ForexHound

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