Colombo, May 22, 2009
Agencies urge Sri Lankan government to lift restrictions as conditions in displacement camps deteriorate
—World Vision on Thursday joined other aid agencies in Sri Lanka in a call on the government to lift restrictions on access to the displacement camps in northern Sri Lanka.
In a joint statement, the agencies appealed to the authorities to lift recent restrictions on vehicular access to the camps. As a result of the restrictions, agencies cannot adequately provide urgently needed services including food and water to people who are almost totally reliant on aid.
“The camps in Sri Lanka are huge. They stretch over 1,000 acres and take nearly an hour to walk across. Without vehicles we can’t do our work properly and that’s putting lives at risk.
Thousands of people are arriving from the war zone in a very weak condition. We’re very worried about their health, with children and the elderly being particularly at risk. Keeping aid agencies out will only make their condition more critical.
We’re asking the Sri Lankan government to adhere to the guiding principles agreed by them with the humanitarian community and to let us do our job properly,” World Vision and 12 other agencies said in the statement.
Aid agencies are stretched in their efforts to support some 280,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who fled the conflict zone and are accommodated in camps in the districts of Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka and in Trincomalee in the east.
The 26-year conflict between the Sri Lanka government and the separatist LTTE ended on Sunday, with the capture of the last strip of coastland occupied by the LTTE in north east Sri Lanka and the deaths of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other senior leaders. Even as the war ends, the country now faces the enormous challenge of rebuilding and ensuring the speedy return of the displaced to their places of origin or locations of their choice.
World Vision is working with other aid agencies to support and care for the displaced persons in the camps. The international humanitarian agency is distributing food, water and family packs of essential items in the camps and is also engaged in supplementary feeding programs for children under five and nursing mothers.
World Vision continues to advocate for the adherence to international minimum standards (SPHERE) in camp management, support and care for the IDPs in line with guiding principles on IDPs and a speedy return of IDPs to their own homes or locations of their choice. World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty. We serve the world’s poor regardless of a person’s religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.