Posted by: Lister | July 10, 2009

Manik Farm internment camp

From Timesonline:

About 1,400 people are dying every week at the giant Manik Farm internment camp set up in Sri Lanka to detain Tamil refugees from the nation’s bloody civil war, senior international aid sources have told The Times.

[…] Mangala Samaraweera, the former Foreign Minister and now an opposition MP, said: “There are allegations that the Government is attempting to change the ethnic balance of the area. Influential people close to the Government have argued for such a solution.”

News of the death rate came as the International Committee of the Red Cross revealed that it had been asked to scale down its operations by the Sri Lankan authorities, which insist that they have the situation under control.

[…] Last night, the Red Cross was closing two offices. One of these is in Trincomalee, which had helped to provide medical care to about 30,000 injured civilians evacuated by sea from the conflict zone in the north east.

The other is in Batticaloa, where the Red Cross had been providing “protection services”. This involves following up allegations of abductions and extrajudicial killings, practices that human rights organisations say have become recurring motifs of the Sri Lankan Government.

[…] Aid workers and the British Government have warned that conditions at the site are inadequate. Most of the deaths are the result of water-borne diseases, particularly diarrhoea, a senior relief worker said on condition of anonymity.

Witness testimonies obtained by The Times in May described long queues for food and inadequate water supplies inside Manik Farm. Women, children and the elderly were shoved aside in the scramble for supplies. Aid agencies are being given only intermittent access to the camp. The Red Cross was not being allowed in yesterday.

[…] Mr Rajapaksa is known for not tolerating dissent; a trait that human rights organisations say was demonstrated this week when five Sri Lankan doctors who witnessed the bloody climax of the country’s civil war and made claims of mass civilian deaths recanted much of their testimony.

The doctors said at a press conference on Wednesday that they had deliberately overestimated the civilian casualties. As government officials looked on, they claimed that Tigers had forced them to lie.

[…] =The doctors denied other former testimony, including the government shelling of a conflict-zone hospital in February for which there are witnesses from the UN and the Red Cross.

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