Human Security, IDPs and Refugees, Post-War, Vavuniya

Breaking news: Flooding and unrest again at Menik Farm?

Updates received by Groundviews in the evening today from the field suggest that heavy rain, as it did in August, is again causing havoc in Menik Farm. We were able to confirm heavy precipitation in Vavuniya, but other points noted in these updates are unverified and published here for others in the area, or in the know, to confirm or counter. All times are +5.30GMT.

9.38pm
A reported 1,500 IDPs in Zone 6 are giving the Zone Commander a hard time over leaking shelters.

9.41pm
There was heavy rain at Menik Farm and expect that continuing. Most shelters already damaged and due to this rain cannot stay anymore. I think people try to go out of the camps. Tomorrow only can get more details.

10.01pm
People agitated at Zonal Commander in Zone 6b because shelters are damaged for 1,500 people. World Vision is sending 500 tarpaulins down and 3 busses are ready for evacuation of extremely vulnerable individuals if required. Seems it will get under control.

See situation updates in comments below.

  • Update received by Groundviews this morning:

    “Some who were in the field say that there was some rain, but not for too long – maybe an hour or so and not horrendous as indicated above. There had been some surface water collecting but it was certainly not as bad as the flooding in mid August. But remember the monsoon rains are yet to come!”

  • Heshan

    Why does the UN continue to fund (read: subsidize) this travesty?

  • kayhaytha

    Hmmm…. If the situation is as bad as what it is made out to be in the article, would not the Indian Parliamentary delegation who visited the camps have brought it to the attention of the Sri Lankan Government ? Strange.

  • Update received at 6.57pm, 14 October:

    “Visited Zone 6B, established three months ago and only populated now. Most of the shelters were damaged and more leaking due to rain yesterday. Due to this people argued with Army. Today it was not much of a problem, but if it rains can expect the same thing again.”

  • ericsor

    Is flooding a common problem in Vanni?
    Remeber what LTTE said then, “when monsoon hit the vanni SL army would be defeted”.
    We all rememberd how bad was the situation when the military op. was going on in the vanni.

  • @ kayhaytha

    “They (Lankan Tamils) complained of lack of food, with even children not having milk. While many said they didn’t have clothes to change, others said there was not enough water for bathing and toilet purposes,” the 10-member team said in its report submitted to Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. The “overwhelming demand” from the Tamils was to send them back to their places, the report by the delegation, comprising MPs from the ruling DMK and its allies, the Congress and the Viduthalai Chiraithugal Katchi, said. Noting that miseries of Tamils would be compounded if they were not vacated from camps before onset of monsoon, it said “even if proper infrastructure is provided, it is not advisable to hold lakhs of people in such camps for a long period.”

    From http://beta.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article34238.ece

  • V. Weerakone

    I was in Menik Farm, in the first week of May, when it rained for the first time. There was no proper drainage and since the ground was not levelled water was flowing into the tents. It was terrible. People were crowding around areas that had a roof. There was flooding because drains that were dug, went around in a square and that was it. No outlet to discharge the water. I can understand how it must be for the people when I hear of rain. There was something of a hospital that was trying to function but water was running into it as well. The enclosure that was meant to be the hospital was muddy and pools of water around and patients were being given rudimentary medicines. All I can say, Release these people NOW!

  • Heshan

    Thanks for sharing the truth, V. Weerakone. There is no excuse for these camps. The issue is not one of race, security, or unity… it is about basic human dignity. This is the 21st century… to make people beg for water and stand in line for breadcrumbs from foreigners is ridiculous… these are not helpless people. Let them go back to their homes and lands; end this silly collective punishment now!

  • Sri Lanka Army (SLA) officials in Jaffna prohibit the media to meet and interview the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have just arrived from Vavuniyaa SLA internment camps.

    Also, the Sri Lanka Army representative warned the IDPs of harsh consequences if they meet or say anything to news media

    Why? Does Sri Lankan Army have something to hide?

    ———————————————–

    Tamil Human Rights Activists’ plea to the International Community (IC) is self – limiting.

    The question is not what IC should do for Tamils, but what Tamils & their supporters do for themselves.

    Without political clout & economic pressure, why should Sri Lanka listen?

    The Sri Lankan attorney has come to learn from the US “model” of Guantanamo!!!
    Are the Tamils willing to learn from the model they need to follow?

    Is it time for a BDS — a Boycott – Divestment – Sanctions Movement against Sri Lanka’s apartheid state on the model of the Palestinian BDS movement against Israel??

    There are situations in which human rights & natural rights must grow their own teeth in the cause of their own physical survival.

    This isn’t some individuals, but an entire population of Vanni that’s living in Guantanamo.

    Campaigns of appeal & awareness alone won’t help.

    Only a movement on many fronts, political, economic, cultural, spiritual, can free the innocent women, children from the Sri Lankan concentration camps.

  • HumanFrailty

    Groundviews ignored the October 2008 flooding in the Puttalam IDP camps.. Now it’s gung ho about covering ‘possible’ flooding in the Vanni Tamil IDP camps? Is one group more important than the other?

    80 out 0f 146 camps in Puttalam were flooded last October – http://sundaytimes.lk/081026/News/sundaytimesnews_14.html

    No mention of this by Groundviews or other critics of the Sri Lankan government.

    • This HumanFrailty chowderhead is clearly of the mentality, common amongst anonymous self-styled patriots on the web, that believes attempts like this to prove our ‘bias’ somehow helps justify a quarter of a million Tamil IDPs interned in Menik Camp, even when 20,000, most believed to be LTTE cadre, have mysteriously escaped from these camps. Even a basic search on Groundviews, or clicking on the Puttlam tag points to stories that highlight the plight of the Muslim IDPs in Puttlam, well before the Sunday Times story, and in much greater detail to boot. For example, Feature story: Cries for help from Puttalam. This has already been made clear to HumanFrailty on Twitter, though English comprehension of even short messages is evidently not a forte of this individual. Most of these cowardly voices like HumanFrailty, using anonymity online as a cover for their inanity, make a habit out of celebrating vapidity and a thinly veiled racism in their submissions. These fringe lunatics, who like conch-shells make much noise but express nothing of any worth, have no space on Groundviews.

  • HumanFrailty

    The Tamils have a great lobby network as we can see with mawath silva bobbing his head about to scream about the evil Sinhalese. No such luck for the Muslims that the LTTE kicked out of the North in blatant ethnic cleansing.

  • Observer

    groundviews, why be so quick to jump on HumanFrailty when Mawatha Silva’s comments remind me of the Brain in Pinky and the Brain?
    Mawathat’s blog has a friggin tiger on the front page. Can you take what he says seriously??

  • smoulderingjin

    Well Observer…

    People who respond to a crisis about x by saying “why didn’t people shout out about y?” are “koheda yanne, malle pol” sorts. Besides the facts that GVs has already pointed out to you, that the plight of the IDPs in Puttalam have been highlighted on the forum, there is the delicate matter that the IDPs of Menik farm are being held there as prisoners at gun point behind barbed wire fences. Being trapped in monsoon floods at gun point is quite a different matter to experiencing them as those who are not.

    GVs
    “vapidity and a thinly veiled racism in their submissions. These fringe lunatics, who like conch-shells make much noise but express nothing of any worth”

    A heck of a fine turn of phrase that succinctly expresses the nature of some of the posts on the forum. “Chowderheads” 😀 hahaha that says it all. The Chowderheaded fringe lunatics with conch-shell audio equipment are perhaps the greatest barrier to this nation going anywhere except downhill!

  • smoulderingjin

    The government’s recent response to Damilvany Gnanakumar, a British citizen (the girl who was recently released from the camps) indicates that they do not want the inmates of the camp to have access to the media or foreign media.

    I am aware that there is controversy surrounding Damilvany and her statement, and do not have information to comment much about her. However, the issue here is not who she is or what she said, but the GOSL’s response to her statements. The GOSL made a statement that they will not release any more foreign nationals who were being held in the camps. They also arrested members of D’s family who sheltered her, so that she stopped giving her statements to the international press.

    The salient point here is not the innocence or guilt of this girl, but the fact that the government’s response is to refuse freedom to people in the camp because they did not want them to speak out.

    Perhaps the GOSL will continue to imprison these people until the world and the rest of Sri Lanka forgets about them and moves on with life. They may then release them, but by then many innocent people would have suffered and died. By then there may be no one left who is interested in hearing the stories they have to tell.

  • Heshan

    “No such luck for the Muslims that the LTTE kicked out of the North in blatant ethnic cleansing”

    At least the LTTE did not bomb the homes and properties of the Muslims to smithereens and stuff the remaining survivors into barbed-wire concentration camps.

    At least the LTTE had the guts to admit that the so-called ethnic cleansing was wrong, apologize to the Muslims, and invite them back.

    Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of the patriots in the South, despite the much vaunted “humanitarian operation” (so humanitarian that no journalists were allowed) launched by the “People’s President.” Surprise, surprise.. despite this “humanitarian operation” having “zero civilian casualties” (according to the “People’s President), the very same “People’s President” does not have the guts to visit an IDP camp (or even pay for it with his own country’s money).

  • Heshan

    “If the situation is as bad as what it is made out to be in the article, would not the Indian Parliamentary delegation who visited the camps have brought it to the attention of the Sri Lankan Government ? Strange.”

    You mean the same Indian Parliamentary delegation that is part of an Indian Government which provided unlimited weapons, real-time intelligence, and diplomatic support to SL, in the latter’s campaign against the Tigers? I wouldn’t be surprised if the camps were an Indian idea… at least partially. In any event, I doubt the camps would have been constructed if India had properly voiced its objections.

    P.S: Democracy is a sham in India too; luckily, federalism has worked wonders. Everything “good” about India, every success story can be directly attributed to decentralization of power at the Center.

  • Human

    ‘At least the LTTE did not bomb the homes and properties of the Muslims to smithereens and stuff the remaining survivors into barbed-wire concentration camps.’

    Yeah, they instead took over the houses and property and gave them to their own people. That’s much better. And destroying Muslim mosques in the areas to wipe out the fact that they were present in the area is about as the same as bombing them.

    The army also bombed LTTE controlled areas i.e. admitted rebel centers. The Muslims did nothing to the LTTE (and earlier on actually helped them)..

    ‘barbed-wire concentration camps’

    What’s your issue with barb wire? Would you rather have a brick wall around the camps?

    I don’t think the army put the Tamil IDPS in ‘concentration camps’ either. Are you saying that they should be automatically considered innocent and released into the general populace even though they were coming from LTTE-held areas? You may love the LTTE and consider them Saints but the population south of Vavuniya don’t.

    And now the IDPS have freedom of movement. They can leave the camps and about 180,000 have been resettled (not without problems though).. The time given to return was for those wanting to have government help in resettlement. About 4,000 haven’t returned and there is no indication that the Army is making any effort to locate them.

  • Human

    ‘At least the LTTE had the guts to admit that the so-called ethnic cleansing was wrong, apologize to the Muslims, and invite them back.’

    Um, nice guts. How long did it take.. about 12 years!! It’s obviously a ploy to get back a significant section of the population they willfully secluded in their run for Tamil Eelam.

    Chandrika apologized for Black July.

    Wait another 12 years and who ever is in power just may issue some apology for extensive civilian casulaties if that’s what you call guts.

  • Human

    “This HumanFrailty chowderhead is clearly of the mentality, common amongst anonymous self-styled patriots on the web, that believes attempts like this to prove our ‘bias’ somehow helps justify a quarter of a million Tamil IDPs interned in Menik Camp, even when 20,000, most believed to be LTTE cadre, have mysteriously escaped from these camps. Even a basic search on Groundviews, or clicking on the Puttlam tag points to stories that highlight the plight of the Muslim IDPs in Puttlam, well before the Sunday Times story, and in much greater detail to boot. For example, Feature story: Cries for help from Puttalam. This has already been made clear to HumanFrailty on Twitter, though English comprehension of even short messages is evidently not a forte of this individual. Most of these cowardly voices like HumanFrailty, using anonymity online as a cover for their inanity, make a habit out of celebrating vapidity and a thinly veiled racism in their submissions. These fringe lunatics, who like conch-shells make much noise but express nothing of any worth, have no space on Groundviews.”

    ooh, I see I touched a nerve! Sorry, I couldn’t get back to you earlier because I rarely if ever come here.

    You guys may have covered certain issues with the Puttalam refugees but you didn’t cover their flooding. That was my point. You guys at the time of this article were jumping up and down trying to get the latest scoop on possible flooding at Menik Farm which was not significant from what was known at time and certainly not now (what happened? Where was the massive damage?

    Unlike you I don’t have a holier-than-thou tread on flowers view on conflict. These people lived willingly (initially at least) with the LTTE. I’m not crying puddles worrying about them. They could have with a little though realized that living with an unrecognized rebel group can have it’s disadvantages. I for one wouldn’t have chosen to live with the JVP when they launched their insurrection.

    And what’s your view now that the IDP camps are open? Are you still frothing at the mouth?

  • Human

    I don’t support Mahinda Rajapakse btw.

  • Human

    I’m not even opposed to an independent Tamil state in the North really. Fix the borders along what existed under the Jaffna Kingdom and I’m fine. I just want to move on with the area that constitutes Sri Lanka.