Skip to main content

Sri Lanka: Humanitarian Aid

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his most recent assessment is of the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. (290679)

Following the end of the conventional conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and LTTE in May 2009, approximately 270,000 internally displaced people (IDP) are now in camps in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Our humanitarian advisor, based at the British High Commission in Colombo, last visited the camps on 26 August 2009. Conditions in the camps are basic but improving as needs for shelter, food, water and medicine are gradually being met. Access for humanitarian agencies is also improving. However, I remain concerned about: high malnutrition levels among sections of the IDP population, particularly children; the lack of freedom of movement and restrictions put on protection activities, including ensuring the safety of the IDP population; reuniting unaccompanied children with their families; and registration of the population as a whole.

The recent flooding in some of the camps following heavy rain highlights the importance of safely returning as many people as possible to their homes before the forthcoming monsoon season. I am encouraged that the Government of Sri Lanka has started the process and has so far returned 4,500 people to their communities of origin. However, much more needs to be done if the Government of Sri Lanka is to meet its own target of resettling the bulk of the IDPs before the end of the year.