US ‘deeply concerned’ over Sri Lankan camps: envoy

July 27, 2009 (AFP) – The United States was “deeply concerned” that tens of thousands of displaced people were still locked inside camps two months after Sri Lanka’s decades-long ethnic war had ended, a US envoy said Monday. Around 300,000 people displaced during the final stages of the war continue to live in temporary shelters run by the state in the island’s north and have only limited access to sanitation, food, medicine and clean water.

Though living conditions in the camps were improving, much more needed to be done, the visiting US assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, Eric Schwartz, told reporters here.

“At the same time, the United States remains deeply concerned about a range of issues where further progress is essential. In particular, the vast majority of persons remain confined to camps,” Schwartz said.

Sri Lankan troops crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels in mid-May, but the government says it needs to keep displaced people inside tightly guarded camps until suspected rebel fighters among them are weeded out.

International aid agencies also have limited access to the camps and Schwartz said the restrictions “remain burdensome.”

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