250,000 Tamils in dire humanitarian need, says British Minister
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 07 October 2009, 04:56 GMT]
Mike Foster, a British international development minister, said after visiting Menik farm, the internment camp where Sri Lanka holds more than a quarter of million displaced Tamils, that the internees "are in dire humanitarian need of being allowed out of internment camps which face flash floods in Sri Lanka's monsoons," the British paper Guardian reported. "Although conditions have improved the tents are basically disintegrating. With the monsoons we will have sewage floating around – water-borne diseases will be rife," the paper said quoting Foster.
Michael Foster, British international development minister
BBC which was allowed access to the camp with Mr Foster, noted that the Sri Lanka Government allowing BBC inside the camp is also a "notable progress," added, "[a]nd yet, just five minutes of conversation with the camp-dwellers was deeply distressing. Starting by talking to us through our car-window, women, one after the other, piled on tales of hopelessness in the Tamil language."
Foster said the monsoon, which is due to start this month, was almost certain to destroy tents already fraying after six months’ use, and to overload the camps’ rudimentary sewage systems, causing a flood of raw human waste, the Times reported.
“Disease, if it takes hold, is going to spread rapidly. Without doubt there will a loss of life,” he said. “Given that there are 250,000 people living so close together, I’d hazard a guess that it’s going to be more than dozens,” the Times said, quoting Foster.
“Once the monsoons are gone, we’ll stop funding support inside the camps,” he said. “That’s increasingly going to be the attitude not just of us, but of other donors as well,” Foster told the paper.