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