Sri Lanka’s weary war refugees face monsoon misery

August 23, 2009 (AFP) – Tamil civilians who lived through the vicious final battle of Sri Lanka’s separatist war are now locked in another struggle for survival with heavy rains bringing misery to the camps they call home. Nearly 300,000 people displaced by the fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels are held in what the government calls “welfare villages” which are off-limits to independent media.

“This is inhuman. This is a living hell,” pro-government Tamil politician Dharmalingam Sithadthan said of the camps where recent pre-monsoon rains overwhelmed sewer systems and flooded tents.

“The rains earlier this month were freak showers,” said Sithadthan. The heavy monsoon rains “will start in October and the conditions will only get worse. The government must give people the choice to leave the camps.”

The United States, which led international criticism over civilian casualties in the final phase of Colombo’s offensive against the Tamil Tigers, has also been vocal in its concerns over the plight of the displaced survivors.

The United Nations said more than 7,000 civilians may have perished in the five months before the war ended in May.

“Involuntary confinement is especial