10 September 2009

Dire humanitarian needs in Sri Lanka following mass exodus from war zone

  1. A long line of displaced people forms to receive World Vision relief supplies.
  2. World Vision is providing clean water in Sri Lanka’s displacement camps.
  3. Displacement camps already stretched to capacity are struggling to accommodate new arrivals. © STR New / Reuters
  4. A group of civilians emerge from the conflict zone. © David Gray / Reuters
  5. After being displaced multiple times, civilians are exhausted and in desperate need of help. © Stringer Sri Lanka / Reuters

Date posted: 28 April 2009 The government and aid agencies in Sri Lanka have been called upon for an unprecedented humanitarian response in Sri Lanka as over 100,000 internally displaced people have arrived in camps in the north since a mass exodus from the war zone that began last Monday 20 April.

State television in Sri Lanka has aired footage of tens of thousands of men, women and children, some with infants in arms, wading through the waist-high water in a lagoon as they fled the conflict zone. Initial estimates indicate that around 30% of the displaced population are children.

At least ten of the 20 displacement camps in Vavuniya are currently holding between two and five times their capacity and displaced people have also begun arriving in the Jaffna peninsula.

According to Suresh Bartlett, National Director for World Vision in Sri Lanka, access to water is fast becoming a major humanitarian issue: “The existing water table in the area was already low, and now it's becoming even harder to source water. At the moment water is not even making it to the holding tanks in the camps – it is being distributed straight off the trucks.”

World Vision is continuing to step up a relief response to support the needs of the steadily increasing numbers of displaced people in Sri Lanka and is advocating for adherence to international minimum standards in camp management, support and care for the internally displaced people and a speedy return to their own homes or locations of their choice.

Date first published: Tuesday 28 April 2009