Visiting the Vavuniya IDP camps: an uplifting experience - N. Ram
N. Ram, the much respected editor of the Hindu was recently in Sri Lanka to get quality first-hand experience regarding the IDP facilities set up in Vavunia, which have come under a lot of flack, by those who report citing anons, ghosts and ghouls.
His first-hand assessment refutes the view floated by the western media, largely using second-hand counts.
According to Ram:
- Conditions in these camps are much better than what has been depicted, visibly better than conditions in Sri Lankan refugee camps in India.
- Basic needs, including education, vocational training and medication are being met.
- President Rajapaksa admitted some “shortcomings,” especially the lack of “freedom of movement.”
- The Sri Lankan government is now confident that the President’s 180-day resettlement plan can be implemented.
What became clear during the visit to Anandakumaraswamy Village in Zone 1, through glimpses of other camps in the vast IDP relief complex, and in conversations in Tamil with some of the displaced people was this. Conditions in these camps are much better than what has been depicted, mostly second-hand, that is, without visiting the camps, in western media reports. Moreover, they are visibly better than conditions in Sri Lankan refugee camps in India, which are still mostly inaccessible to journalists, researchers, and other outsiders. Basic needs, including education for the schoolchildren and vocational training for older boys and girls, are being met by the Sri Lankan government with assistance from the United Nations, a number of countries, including India, and more than 50 INGOs.