Sri Lanka: Terrible conditions for Tamils in concentration camps

The article below is abridged from


Japan's Special Envoy to Sri Lanka, Yasushi Akashi, said on June 11 that Colombo "has lots to do" to improve the conditions of those living in the overcrowded camps in the north, where there are shortages of food, water, sanitation and medicines, AFP said.

After touring Manik Farm, the most presentable of the barbed wire-ringed military-run camps where almost 300,000 Tamil residents of Vanni region are imprisoned by the government, Akashi said many appeared undernourished.

"The water supply is simply enough. Sanitation is one of the areas that needs attention", he told Reuters.

The Sri Lankan defence ministry claimed in a statement that Akashi had "expressed his admiration for the tremendous progress that he witnessed [at the camps]".

However, the Associated Press quoted Akashi as saying the camps were badly congested, had urgent sanitation problems and needed international assistance.

World Vision warned on June 11 that impending monsoon rains could spread disease if sanitation and drainage were not improved quickly, Reuters said.

"When the rains come in two weeks or so, I can't imagine what conditions will be like due to the lack of any proper drainage and toilet system", said Suresh Bartlett, World Vision's country director.

Sri Lanka has barred aid workers, rights activists and journalists from working freely in the north, where the hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians have been confined to heavily guarded camps.

More than 20,000 Tamil civilians were massacred by the Sri Lankan army between January and May this year, investigations by the London Times and Paris Le Monde newspapers said, quoting UN officials.