Sri Lanka: 245,000 still languish in camps

Six months after the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war some 245,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) remain in camps, where aid donors are increasingly concerned over harsh conditions. A UN official warned Sri Lanka that international donors are less likely to provide funding if authorities continue to restrict IDPs’ freedom of movement. Neil Buhne, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sri Lanka, said “donor fatigue is really in respect to continuing these closed camps.”

Nearly 300,000 people fled the fighting in the country’s northeast in the final months of the 26-year civil war between the government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May. The government, under growing pressure from the international community over the crisis, says it will resettle up to 80% of the IDPs by year’s end, and defends the slow pace of releases by saying it must screen people to filter out those with LTTE ties. The government announced Oct. 22 that it had begun resettling 41,685 IDPs in the former LTTE-controlled districts of Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Kilinochchi in the north. (IRIN, Oct. 23)

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