Lack of tents, military meddling trouble Mankerni refugees
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 02 February 2005, 09:51 GMT]
“There are thousand seven hundred persons belonging to four hundred and eighty one families in this refugee camp. But we have only hundred and ninety eight tents to house them. Hundred and forty five tents were given by UNHCR and ICRC. The government gave us only forty eight tents. It is very difficult for the refugees. But we have asked them to cope”, Mr. Kandasamy Mahtikaran, village officer for Mankerni told TamilNet, describing the travails of this Tsunami devastated coastal settlement about 48 kilometres north of Batticaloa.
|A water tank supplied by WHO at the Mankerni camp|
|A child waiting for handouts at the Mankerni refugee camp|
Sanitation and medical facilities are still lacking in the camp. The refugees depend on services of international and local NGOs that visit Mankerni regularly.
The village officer told TamilNet that problems and conflicts in the camp area are often caused by the overcrowding due to the shortage of tents and brewing of illicit liquor in the area.
Welfare activities are generally supervised by volunteers from a local NGO called Koralai Pattu North Development Union (KPNDU) and a worker from the local unit of the ‘Samurdhi’ poverty alleviation program.
Mankerni is controlled by a Sri Lanka arm garrison in the village.
Soldiers from the camp intervene in the affairs of the Tsunami refugee camp despite the presence of the Police. Armed military men move about freely inside the camp.
Some refugees are housed in the Mankerni Church, which is inside the outer defense perimeter of the Mankerni SLA garrison.
“This militarization of Tsunami refugee camps is against all humanitarian norms. But the Sri Lankan government is intent on perpetrating on our Tsunami affected people”, said Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, Tamil National Alliance MP for Batticaloa speaking about the situation in Mankerni.
An SLA soldier in the camp