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Sri Lankan camps unable to cope with huge influx of people fleeing conflict zone

Christian Aid welcomes the end of fighting in Sri Lanka, but warns that humanitarian crisis created by the conflict is far from over.

Find out more about Christian Aid's Sri Lanka appeal

'Now that the Sri Lankan government has won the war, they must ensure that they win the peace,' says Robin Greenwood, director of Christian Aid’s Asia division.

'The priority now is to help those who have had to flee their homes to rebuild their lives. Thousands of people who have escaped the fighting are already being held by the Sri Lankan government in temporary camps. Tens of thousands more are likely to arrive in the coming days. But these camps are already severely over-crowded and unable to meet the basic food and shelter needs of those who are arriving. 

'Many children have witnessed terrible scenes as they escaped with their parents to safety. Some saw their parents killed or were separated from them during the journey. These children will need intensive counseling in the months to come,' adds Mr Greenwood. 

The tens of thousands of people who were trapped in the no-fire zone with insufficient food and in constant fear for their lives are now expected to move into the government camps in Vavuniya and Jaffna.

In Jaffna the camps are better able to cope but people are still arriving in a severely malnourished state as many have been cut off from farming and fishing opportunities for months, says Darishini Mahandren, the Christian Aid programme officer for Jaffna.  So far, no counseling has been available for those traumatised by the war, but Christian Aid hopes to provide that in the coming months if the government allows outsiders to enter the camps. 

Ms Mahandren says the government is sending more people to Vavuniya than Jaffna, even though the overcrowding is more severe in Vavuniya.

'It is very important that the government devises a medium term strategy to permanently resettle people who have been displaced, or to guarantee their safety if they return to their place of origin. Otherwise the cycle of violence may begin again in the near future', adds Mr Greenwood.

Christian Aid has been working with local organisations to respond to the humanitarian needs of those who have fled the conflict by providing much-needed relief in the camps.

Donations are urgently needed to continue this work.

  • £33 could provide ten blankets and mosquito nets for families arriving with nothing

  • £48 could provide an entire month of specialist medical assistance to injured and sick women and children

  • £125 could pay for nutritious, cooked meals for ten families for a week.  

 Notes to editors 

For further information or to arrange an interview, please call Sarah Wilson on 0207 523 2277 or 07930 341 525. Out of hours calls to 07850 242 950.

Photographs available.  

For more details and how to donate, click on: www.christianaid.org.uk