Britain says Sri Lanka war victims should be freed

October 6, 2009 (AFP) – Britain on Tuesday expressed disappointment with Sri Lanka’s handling of war-displaced civilians and demanded that they be given the freedom to leave state-run camps. “Freedom of movement is critical if a humanitarian crisis is to be averted,” visiting British Development Minister Mike Foster said after touring the camps, where over 250,000 civilians are being detained.

Foster, who began a two-day visit Tuesday, also voiced concern over the conditions in the camps.

Britain was helping Sri Lanka with resettlement as well as de-mining, he said adding, however, that he was “disappointed” with Sri Lanka’s progress in allowing civilians to return to their homes in former war-zones.

Foster said 4.8 million pounds (7.6 million dollars, 5.2 million euros) is currently in the pipeline to assist Sri Lanka in resettlement work, but added that it could not use the money to transfer people from one camp to another.

“Mike Foster made clear that Britain’s funding could not support people simply being transferred from existing ‘closed’ camps – which detain civilians for long periods of time – to new ‘closed’ camps,” the British High Commission (Embassy) said in a s