Caritas: Sri Lankans Still Suffering in Camps

Nation Has Yet to Establish «Real Peace»

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, APRIL 29, 2010 ( Almost a year after the conclusion of Sri Lanka’s three-decade war, some 90,000 refugees are still suffering in camps with little water.

In a statement today, Caritas affirmed that «Sri Lanka has yet to emerge from decades of conflict with a real peace.»

Though the majority of those driven from their homes by the fighting are now in resettlement areas, some 90,000 remain in camps where the «conditions are difficult.»

«Extremely high temperatures coupled with water shortages make the situation bad,» said Father George Sigamoney, director of Caritas Sri Lanka. «The focus is shifting towards resettlement, but the needs of the people remaining in the camps must be maintained. For example, educational facilities for children in the camps are inadequate.» 

And those who have resettled lament «insufficient basic services such as transportation, lack of clean water, health services and roads,» Caritas informed. A «large number of widows, female-headed families, disabled, orphans and elders will need support.»

Other issues include tensions over cattle theft, disputes over common water resources, language barriers, and areas that still need to be de-mined.

Caritas, one of the few aid agencies permitted to work in the war-affected areas, is focusing on shelter, the needs of farmers, fishermen, small-scale traders, masons, carpenters, education (especially for orphans), counseling, and healthcare. They are also dedicated to helping former child soldiers and other combatants to restart their lives, offering peace building measures to avoid further conflict.

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