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Rains snatch shelter from Tamil refugees

Incessant weekend rains have triggered floods and forced Tamil refugees housed in camps to live without proper shelter in the northern district of Vavuniya.

world Updated: Aug 16, 2009 20:46 IST

Incessant weekend rains have triggered floods and forced Tamil refugees housed in camps to live without proper shelter in the northern district of Vavuniya.

"More than 100,000 internally displaced people in Wanni camps are without proper shelter as heavy rains begin to lash the area. Zone two and four of the Menik farm camps (in Vanuniya) were the worst affected as the rain water flowing through the camp has made it impossible for the people who are in temporary shelters made of plastic sheets to stay in their tents,’’ the Sunday Times newspaper said on Sunday.

According to Sunday Leader the zone 3 camp was also affected because of poorly constructed drainage systems.

The government blamed UN agencies for the flooding in IDP camps in Vavuniya saying they had taken the responsibility to construct drainage systems and flood preventive measures at the sites.

“The UN agencies involved in the IDP camps had taken the responsibility of constructing the drainage systems and flood preventive measures. So the government cannot be blamed for the poor condition of the drainage systems which burst and failed,” Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Management, Rizad Bathiudeen told Daily Mirror online.

Camps in the Vavuiya district account for more than 2.5 lakh of the 2.8 lakh Tamil refugees.

The top government official in the district, PSM Charles, said about 200 people had to be evacuated to higher ground. Cooked meals were provided to the affected and schools were being identified where they could be accommodated.

It continues to be difficult for journalists to independently verify information as access to the camps is severely restricted, three months after the end of the Eelam War IV, which officially ended on May 19.

Aid groups have said the camps were overcrowded and if heavy rains continue the condition of the refugees could only get worse.