Disaster Management, Human Security, IDPs and Refugees, Peace and Conflict, Post-War, Vavuniya

First images: The flooding in Menik Camp and the increasingly dire situation for IDPs

These are the first images of the flooding in Menik Camp, where over 260,000 IDPs are interned.

Groundviews was first to break the news on Friday that flooding on account of torrential rain was severely affecting thousands of IDPs, particularly in Zones 3 and 4 of Menik Camp.

While heavy rain has stopped, intermittent showers are continuing, exacerbating the hellish camp conditions as flagged by updates from Vidura today. Severe hardships and challenges on the ground range from toilets that are overflowing to shelters that are under water and a lack of dry firewood for cooking. Vidura, who is witness to the conditions on the ground, goes on to categorically note that the zones cannot survive the monsoon, even with upgrading and preparation.

Other reports received by Groundviews suggest that things have improved on the ground compared to yesterday, with sandbanks stopping the inflow of water into some areas. Vidura also reports that the water treatment plant that got damaged is now operational and that there are moves to prepare a monsoon contingency plan. However, many reports suggest that IDPs are increasingly protesting their internment and that tensions may rise with the onset of more rain and the resulting deterioration in camp conditions. This may account for the increase in army cadres to “protect” the IDPs.

Uthayan, a well read Tamil newspaper carried this lead story today (translation received by Groundviews).

Three hours of heavy rains in Cheddikulam yesterday pushes ten thousand displaced persons living in two welfare centres to grave hardships; over ten thousand refugees were moved to safer areas as many roads were impassable even for vehicles, food supplies and drinking water to persons in welfare centres were affected badly.

It was reported that TNA parliamentarian Senathirajah had contacted Basil Rajapakshe in this regard and the senior advisor to the President had assured that they were having discussions about assistance to the affected persons, refugees. In the meantime Alokh Prasad who was contacted by Mavai Senathirajah was told by the Indian High Commissioner that they were in contact with the President’s chief advisor and had requested for a report on the situation in flood affected areas.

Up until the time of this post, local print, broadcast and web media are not covering this story. Only the Daily Mirror republished a BBC news item. No Government newspaper or TV station has even referred to the situation in Menik Camp today.

As Vidura notes, and as many in Sri Lanka concur, the only viable alternative seems to be to allow people to go home or to relatives…

See also Update on Menik Camp flooding: More images and reports from the ground

  • peggy

    There will be more disease, more death from disease. I do not know how the Rajapakse brothers can continue to claim that the internment of the refugees is for their own protection. If they claim there are members of the former LTTE among the refugees, how do they propose to identify them? By means of masked informers?

  • Its horrific to see, those IDP tents are under floods. Those NGOS who lived there for last 30yrs must be aware of the situation than government. They should have used those becco/buldozers gave to LTTE to digg drains to keep this water out of tents. But, are those IDPs are handicapped? LTTE days they built huge bunkers and digged drains to slow down SL military. Now they cant digg a drain to let floods to decrease. Perhaps they are too much pampered by the governemnt. Must have used LTTE motivational theories.

  • NoEalamInSL, you have no right to force the Sri Lankans (The Tamils in IDP camps are Sri Lankans) to do that kind of jobs. Since they are not there by them self. They may have done it under LTTE at gun point. Do you encourage the SLA to point the gun at IDP’s to dig? Think before saying some thing.

    The best is to speed up the screening process, or settle them in their original places and monitor them to weed out the LTTE.

    No one in the world will agree with the Statement that all of them are held in camps to get a few LTTEs.

    What ever the Gov. does it should speed up the matter before the IDP’s over power the guards.

  • and one more thing NoEalamInSL,

    People like you have brought the separatism in this country.

  • Realist

    The callous disregard of the government to the plight of the IDPs may stir up the wrath of the gods. Where is the humanism the 2500 years of civilization we have had. Are the Sinhalese racists that they do not care for the suffering of fellow human beings who we like to say belong to one nation. the sufferings of these people will be a curse on all of us unless we can persuade the government to do something to relieve them. Where are the Concerned Citizens group that petitoned earlier. Have they given u? No we can’t give up.

  • claude wignaraj

    hai mr.precedent, go and see how the people in manik camp are suffring.don`t sit in your chair,get up and go and see.one day this will happen to you.wait and see you and your family have to come to the street.without food,without water,without toilet.this will happen. don`t forget there is one god who is looking from up what you are doing.at that time you have to come to our tamil peoples leg like a dog.wait and see. thank you.

  • Ganga

    Didn’t I tell you how people exploit human tragedies. We have a winner here.

    “Groundviews was first to break the news on Friday that flooding on account of torrential rain was severely affecting thousands of IDPs, particularly in Zones 3 and 4 of Menik Camp.”

    • Ganga, I suggest you go back to school and complete your education. It’s never too late to learn what you missed out on English comprehension, though I fear the common sense and judgement you lack may be congenital.

  • i.ron.y

    While we may well blame the govt how much worse are the NGOs that rushed in putting up these tents, with no proper drainage knowing the rains would come before they could be resettled. Common sense and ground realities would have made anyone realise that these interned people have no hope of going home in 1 month surely. I guess this was so that these NGOs have a sustainable jobs long term! Shame! This is a much more subtle and insidious exploitation Ganga.

  • notmyopinion

    You can delegate authority – to build and run a camp, say (though, interestingly, the government don’t seem to have done that). But you can’t delegate responsibility.

    The buck still stops with the President. If he wants the credit when things go well, he can’t avoid the blame when things go badly – not even if he buries his head in the sand and pretends there is no problem.

  • smoulderingjin

    Ironically we are a “Buddhist nation” and yet the concepts and teachings of the Buddha seem to be absent in the context of the situation of a humanitarian disaster. Despite the fact that president, most of the parliament and most of the citizens of the nation are buddhist.

    The Buddha walked away from the suffering of humanity, disease, death in an attempt to find enlightenment. But death and suffering is sustained by those who claim to follow his paths!

    What irony!

  • BBC Hard Talk – Dr. Palitha Kohana

    Q: How do you see the continued ‘concern’ shown by the international community towards the situation of the IDP’s?

    The cross party delegation from the House of Commons publicly said that these camps were better than they had seen elsewhere. I think its phenomenal that we have been able to provide housing, food and medical care within such a short period. This achievement can’t be compared with any other situation in the world. Outsiders are just finding new reasons for finding fault with us. The latest is the rains. Of course the conditions would deteriorate. When the government asked the international agencies in paving the paths and roads in the camps they refused on grounds that these would be converted to permanent camps. Today the same agencies are complaining that the roads are unusable. The same with the lavatories. They will continue to criticize us because they’re determined to continue that bitterness and hatred.

    DM http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=58610

  • smoulderingjin

    That Palitha K thinks that it is “phenomenal that we have been able to provide housing, food and medical care within a short period”…is truly phenomenal!

    And that “This achievement can’t be compared with any other situation in the world.”

    It definitely, most certainly can’t!

    PK must be an Alpha Centaurian, sitting on a little tiny meteorite that is flying through “imaginary space”. That may be why what he talks about has no relevance to the reality in Sri Lanka

  • Karuppen

    Nobody in the civilized world can vindicate the fact that Srilanka is a civilized country governed by the laws enacted in the constitution. It is a country that has marred its sovereignty by deviation far wide from the institutionalized adherence to the law and order. The Legislative body intervenes in the sphere of the Judiciary and the Executive. That is the mayhem we observe today. The powers of the President impinge on the independent function of the three political blocks and prevent them from executing the function of the law and order enshrined in the Constitution.

    To remedy this erosion into independent function of the Judiciary and the Executive, it is paramount to recognize the need for the abolishment of Presidential Executive Orders to ensure that in future power abuses will demand impeachment in courts and harsh sentences in imprisonment. Already there are signs in opposition quarters to bring this change.

    The recent VDO footage showing the killings of blinded folded and naked Tamils by Singhala men in military uniforms and the mutilated corpses lying around in the ground with death row numbers placed at their feet are only a tip of the iceberg of State Terrorism. The rest has yet to surface to challenge the passive attention of the world communities. It should not be a welcome sight and realization.

    Another aspect where Srilanka failed to honour its commitment to social harmony is the imprisonment of about 300,000 men, women, and children in wired camps where every week about 1400 die of malnutrition, sanitation problems, disease, food and water shortages, and other related problems. Needless to mention here that the White Van abduction of internment Tamil refugees in the camps results in either disappearance of those abducted for ever or their killings. Their corpses are thrown out in the streets in the bushes, and in the lakes. After Srilanka declared victory over or suppression of the LTTE activities by its own proclamation about four months ago, it still keeps the internally displaced Tamils by force in the internment camps. No international laws demand such an imposition on war victims as observed in the internment camps in Srilanka today. The reason is the false and mistaken idea derived from the collusion of the war abettors India, China, and Pakistan. They seek economic hot spots no matter what happens or has happened to the fundamental rights of the indigenous Tamils. This is in direct contravention to the International Laws that govern the ethnic integrity.

    Srilanka as an independent sovereignty in the Indian Ocean neither abides by its own constitution nor honours the International Laws to exist as a multicultural country. If you do not respect the laws and order, you become a dangerous criminal to plunder the public property, human life, and destroy the very pillars of constitution to suit your taste and fantasy. That is the situation in Srilanka today.

    The country Srilanka should not be allowed by international norms and standards to decay into abysmal State Terrorism. It is time that the corrupted UN took some measures such as harsh economic punishments. Tie up all IMF loans and foreign aids with the security of the minority Tamils in the island. Any deviation by Srilankan government from this condition should deprive it of any future loans and aids in any form whatsoever. Isolate the country from world membership of any form. Deploy UN backed forces to keep the peace there or direct UN rule. A very strict screening process by foreign countries of Srilankan representatives abroad and for the future posts in High Commission abroad to verify if any of them in the past or present is involved in State Terrorism, is or was a willing partner to or any similar activities against the minority. If the verification is yes, bar them and their family from visiting any foreign countries or taking any official post for ever. Freeze their assets and deposits they have in foreign banks, both in direct and numbered accounts. A killer has to be identified as a killer for the sole purpose of singling him or her out from the society. Pass very stringent measures at the UN level to impose embargo on the purchase of Srilankan goods abroad. Independent Human Rights institutions and the press abroad should adopt measures to bring pressure on Srilanka to change its political course in such a way as to guarantee peace and harmony in the island. Bring Srilankan President Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa and his military hierarchy before the Independent Tribunal of the World Court to face impeachment as was the case with former war crime murderers of Yugoslavia.
    Srilanka in any way does not qualify to be called a civilized country NOW. It is a land of mounting sins committed by the Singhala chauvinists both in politics and the State Religion Buddhism.

    By all means Srilanka today has shown that it does not care for the local or international laws to exist as an independent country. This encourages the idea that the present political machine has to be replaced by a democratically and militarily strong country to bring peace. A killer should never be let loose in the world.

    A land haunted by ghosts can not call itself a land of Paradise.

    It is Srilanka today.