The internally displaced persons (IDPs) in refugee camps in Sri Lanka were facing a shortage of drinking water and a threat of flooding from the imminent monsoon, a new report from the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Saturday.
The report said worsening conditions in the camps, the largest of which housing around 2.4 lakh displaced Tamils is in the northern district of Vavuniya, are leading to rising tension among the refugees, the report added.
The HRW report came even as the 10-member delegation of Tamil parliamentarians from India landed in Colombo on Saturday afternoon to make a first-hand assessment of the condition of the refugees.
Rajya Sabha MP and daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Kanimozhi, before her departure, said that the four-day visit will not be a ‘guided tour’ of the Lankan camps and expressed confidence that they would be taken to other parts of the country — that were not opened to others so far — as well.
The delegation, besides Kanimozhi, comprises former minister T R Baalu and T K S Elangovan from the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu and Sudarsana Natchiappan and J M Haroon from the Congress among others.
On Saturday evening, it was learnt, the delegation met MPs from the Tamil National Alliance, an umbrella organisation of Tamil parties. The TNA MPs have been critical of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime’s treatment of the refugees, saying the pace of resettlement was slow and the government’s claim of de-mining of former LTTE-controlled areas was not transparent.
The Indian parliamentarians are likely to visit refugee camps in Vavuniya besides Jaffna and the eastern province where a few thousand Tamil refugees have been resettled. Their visit would be rounded off with a meeting with the plantation Tamils, or Tamils of Indian origin whose forefathers were brought to Sri Lanka by the British to work in the tea estates
The HRW report, meanwhile, called on international donors such as Japan, the United States and European Union member states to send a clear message to Sri Lanka that continued detention of the displaced will have serious consequences for Sri Lanka's relationship with the international community.