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Sri Lanka: Internally Displaced Persons

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 18 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sri Lanka on the registration of those held in internally displaced persons camps in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. (280203)

I have been asked to reply.

The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the High Commissioner in Colombo and I have all urged the Government of Sri Lanka, at the highest levels, to ensure that internally displaced persons (IDPs) be treated in accordance with accepted international standards and guidelines.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of Tamil civilians in internally displaced persons camps in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. (280290)

I have been asked to reply.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), around 284,000 civilians fled the fighting in the Vanni, between September 2008 and May 2009. Roughly 263,000 are being accommodated in 22 emergency shelter sites in Vavuniya. A further 11,000 people are being accommodated in 11 emergency shelter sites in Jaffna, 6,700 people in two sites in Trincomalee and some 400 people in two sites in Mannar.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sri Lanka on the freedom of the press (a) in Sri Lanka and (b) to visit and report on (i) Tamil areas and (ii) camps for internally displaced persons; and if he will make a statement. (280307)

We have regularly called on the Sri Lankan Government to take decisive action to guarantee press freedom in Sri Lanka, following a number of attacks and intimidation of the media. We have also called on them to allow access to the camps set up for internally displaced people.

The UK raised our concerns about media freedom in Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council Session in March 2009. My right hon. friend the Foreign Secretary's most recent statement on Sri Lanka was on 19 May 2009, Official Report, column 73WS.