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New British government must make efforts to help Sri Lankan war displaced

A year since the Sri Lankan conflict ended there are still 76,000 people living in  temporary camps.  Christian Aid urges the new British government to make a renewed effort to work with the Sri Lankan government and the international community to reach conflict affected areas and people still recovering from the 30-year civil war.

’The British Government must step up efforts to work with the Sri Lankan government and provide further funding to assist the many returnees who still desperately need help,’ said Brian Martin, Christian Aid’s country manager for in Sri Lanka.

On May 18 2009 Sri Lankan forces defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after a long bloody civil war in the north and east of the country. Many Sri Lankan civilians died in the final months of the war and the fighting drove 300,000 people from their homes.

Today 76,000 are still living in temporary camps in Sri Lanka, awaiting resettlement subject to the availability of suitable land and the challenges of demining.

Those left in the camps tend to be widows, separated families or low level income families, often with no land to return to. Many of the aid agencies who originally supported the camps have now left or diverted their focus to the returnees. One of Christian Aids partners has been helping in the camps to fill the gaps by providing nutritional food and hygiene kits, through funding from Christian Aid.

For those returning to their homes in the Northern Province, where fighting was the heaviest, their homes have either been destroyed or badly damaged and there is currently no way to make a living as their fields are overgrown or have not been cleared for mines. These returnees have limited access to basic services such as medical care, water or education and are living in temporary shelter such as tents or under plastic sheeting with no toilets. 

Additionally, nearly half of the returnees are women headed households who have lost their husbands or are separated from them. Many of these returnees have faced multiple displacements not only due the conflict but also from the tsunami in 2004. They have lost all their belongings.

Meanwhile, a further 73,000 Sri Lankan refugees are living in 115 camps in Tamil Nadu, India, waiting for the right opportunity to return home. Christian Aid is helping to support them.

The generous support that was given to the initial emergency appeal last year helped 5,000 families in these camps. The balance of these funds has now been spent on the returnees by our partners.’ said Brian Martin

‘More funding is desperately needed to help in the villages were our partners are working hard to rebuild lives and livelihoods of these returnees. We need to help with income generation before the heavy monsoon rains make living conditions even more dire.’ 


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For more information or interview requests, please contact Johanna Rogers on +44 207 523 2460 or jrogers@christian-aid.org

If you would like to donate to the ongoing work of Christian Aids partners to help the displaced and the returnees in post conflict Sri Lanka please visit www.christianaid.org.uk/sri-lanka


Notes to Editors:

1. 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.
2. Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty – and we believe that vision can become a reality. We urge you to join us. Our drive, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end global poverty.  Details at www.christianaid.org.uk
3. Christian Aid is part of the ACT Alliance, ecumenical relief and development network
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