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Major work needed after opening of Sri Lanka camps

Christian Aid welcomes the government’s move to give freedom of movement to thousands of Sri Lankan civilians held in internment camps.

More than 6,000 people left the largest camp at Menik Farm in the north of the country on Tuesday and headed for the nearby town of Vavuniya.

'We and other agencies have long campaigned for this to happen. I am very pleased that that process has at last started,' said Brian Martin, the country manager for Christian Aid in Sri Lanka.

More than 300,000 people were held in camps for months after the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels in May. More than half of those have been released since the end of October.

'Many families will return home and find little more than a pile of rubble because of the heavy fighting that forced them to flee in the first place,' said Mr Martin.

'In many places their fields are also overgrown with scrub and the local infrastructure destroyed. From my observations on the ground there is a lot of work that needs to be done by the humanitarian community to support the government’s efforts.'

He said others cannot yet go home because areas have not yet been cleared of mines or because their original homes are in high security zones.

'It’s vital that people have the opportunity to resume lives that were so badly affected by years of civil war,' he said.

Christian Aid has funded local partners to provide cooked food and sanitation for more than 5,000 families in the camps.

The focus of the agency’s work has now switched to resettlement. Christian Aid, through partners, is helping to provide temporary shelters, wells, toilets and hygiene training.

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Notes to Editors:

1. For more information or interviews please contact Christian Aid on 020 7523 2460 or ppeachey@christian-aid.org

2. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

3. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire