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1,400 weekly deaths in Lankan refugee camps: Report

July 10, 2009 15:46 IST

About 1,400 people die every week due to water-borne diseases, particularly diarrhoea, at the vast "internment camp" set up in northern Sri Lanka to house Tamil war refugees in an indication of the poor state of affairs of the displaced people, a media report said on Friday.

At the vast Manik Farm camp set up to detain Tamil refugees as a sequel to the war against the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam, about 1400 people are dying due to water-borne diseases adding to concerns that the government has failed to halt a humanitarian catastrophe, The Times said.

"The death toll may also lend credence to allegations that the government which has termed the internment sites 'welfare villages' has actually constructed concentration camps to house 300,000 refugees," it said.

The report quoted Mangala Samaraweera, the former Foreign Minister and now an opposition lawmaker as saying: "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." Meanwhile the International committee of Red Cross said it had been asked to scale down operations by the Sri Lankan authorities which insist that they have matters under control.

The Red Cross was closing two offices--one in Trincomalee, which had helped provide medical care to about 30,000 injured civilians evacuated by sea from the conflict zone in the northeast, and the other in Batticaloa, where the Red Cross had been providing "protection services".

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