Disease outbreak in Sri Lankan camps imminent, says Christian Aid

Published 01 June 2009  |  
There is an urgent need to ward off outbreaks of disease among the hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan Tamil victims in relief camps, an international Christian development agency forewarned.

One of the UK's leading humanitarian and development charities, Christian Aid, has cautioned that with hundreds of new arrivals flooding into the camps everyday, the camps are 'an epidemic waiting to happen'.

Robin Greenwood, the director of Christian Aid's Asia programme, warned, "a combination of monsoon rains, poor drainage and over-crowding is the ideal breeding ground for diseases like cholera and typhoid."

Greenhood fears that a "disease outbreak in northern Sri Lanka is imminent if the government does not tackle the problem of overcrowding and sanitation."

According to the aid agency, there are currently 30 people living in tents designed for five people.

"Now that the Sri Lankan government has sovereign control of all of its territory, it must live up to its responsibilities to its citizens and put more into the relief effort," says Greenwood.

Christian Aid has been working with its local partner organisations to respond to the humanitarian needs of those who have fled the conflict by providing much-needed relief in the camps.

Another global humanitarian aid organization, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) says, "the displaced population is living in extremely difficult conditions and it is still uncertain when they will be able to return to their home communities."

"Many of the displaced spent months trapped in the northern conflict zone, and they suffer from injuries, malnutrition, and severe trauma, " the aid agency of the United Methodist Church, said.

UMCOR is helping thousands at the Menik Farm camp by providing "emergency shelters for 700 families as well as 3,000 baby and hygiene kits, and 34,000 emergency kits."

Recently, after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for greater international relief access to internal displaced person (IDP) camps, the Sri Lankan Government responded by granting "unhindered access" to refugee camps.

Meanwhile, several human rights groups have called for independent investigations into the number of civilians killed in the final weeks of the civil war.

The calls intensified after The Times, London, reported that 20,000 civilians were killed in the final phase of military operation against LTTE.

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