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Sri Lanka: Internally Displaced Persons

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 18 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the humanitarian needs of people in Tamil areas and camps for internally displaced persons in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. (280303)

Since October 2008, more than 284,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have been registered in Government-controlled IDP camps. Freedom of movement is denied in the camps except for some vulnerable groups and the elderly. The remaining IDPs are under military guard. Protection in the camps is a matter of concern. The Department for International Development (DFID) is particularly concerned for the war wounded, malnourished and those separated from their families—including unaccompanied children. The camps are overcrowded and have poor water and sanitation facilitates. Hospitals, such as those in Vavuniya and Mannar, are also overcrowded, having more patients than they can effectively treat.

Access for humanitarian agencies has improved this week, but it remains inconsistent. Continued poor access has impeded agencies’ ability to improve the conditions in the camps which remain of concern.

The UK Government continue to press the Government of Sri Lanka to allow full and unrestricted humanitarian access to all IDPs, to treat IDPs in accordance with accepted international standards and guidelines; and to allow for their rapid and safe return from the camps to their homes.