Australian special representative reveals Sri Lanka IDP camp conditions

Australia's special representative to Sri Lanka, John McCarthy, is currently visiting Sri Lanka to inspect camps housings thousands of internally displaced persons (IDP).

Michael Edwards from ABC News Australia was given access to visit Menik Farm along with John McCarthy.

You can read Michael's report here. Below is an excerpt,

Mr McCarthy, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's hand-picked representative to Sri Lanka, is the man charged with stemming the tide of asylum seekers wanting to get into Australia.

He has a strong interest in Sri Lanka's efforts to resettle Tamils affected by the civil war.

"It's been very worthwhile for us to see at first hand, this delegation, what is happening in the camps and what is happening in the process of resettlement which is taking place within Sri Lanka," he said.

"I think we're encouraged by what we've seen. On the whole these camps are working well and the settlement, resettlement process is working well.

"The momentum needs to be maintained. I think the government of Sri Lanka is aware of that. Also of course it's necessary to ensure that the needs of the people are met when they immediately return."

Later, the delegation visited the town of Mallavi. Its residents had just returned after months at Manik Farm. They arrived back to a home town which had been devastated by the civil war.

But even though many of their houses had been destroyed they said they were happy to be home.

And it is where the Australian government would like them to stay, rather than to take their chances with people smugglers on the open sea.

Despite all the talk of lack of access, 2009 has seen several foreign dignitaries visiting the camps. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, will be visiting the camps next week. His fourth such visit this year.

Canada's International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda has visited the camps twice in 2009. UN chief Ban Ki-moon too visited the camps. Ten Tamil MPs from India were also given access to visit.

These images show UNICEF and SOS Children's involvement within the camps.

Below is a brief list of NGOs/UN humanitarian partners/Charities that currently have access to camps in Sri Lanka.

#Red Cross
#SOS Children's Villages
#Muslim Aid

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