Sri Lanka rains flood 2,000 shelters at camp: UN

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

August 18, 2009 (AFP) – Heavy rains flooded nearly 2,000 makeshift shelters housing Sri Lankan Tamil war refugees detained by the government, the United Nations said Tuesday, raising concerns about their health. The strong rains last weekend lashed the northern Vavuniya district where over 250,000 people displaced during the final stages of the ethnic conflict live in military-run camps under tight security.

The UN said 1,925 shelters had been “damaged or completely destroyed” in the biggest of a series of displaced persons camps known as the Manik Farm area.

People affected had been moved to schools inside the camps temporarily, the UN statement said.

The rains washed away wooden toilets and damaged sewer lines and water treatment plants, government officials said.

Sri Lanka’s Resettlement Minister Rishard Bathurdeen has blamed UN agencies for what he calls a poorly constructed drainage system that collapsed during the floods.

But Human Rights Watch said Tuesday the government must take “full responsibility” for the squalid conditions.

The New York-based group urged Colombo to release inmates to live with their families and friends, a demand consistently rejected by auth