Displaced Tamils 'left stranded in jungle' after 'notorious' Sri Lanka camp closed

Colombo, Sep. 28 (ANI): Some Sri Lankan Tamils who left a vast displacement camp after it was closed last week, said they were 'left in the jungle' with no means of rebuilding their homes or their lives.

The Menik camp for displaced people in Sri Lanka was once one of the largest in the world, and the final 1,160 residents of camp left on Monday.

But 110 families from one village, Keppapilavu, said that they have been prevented from going home and were relocated to a patch of cleared jungle.

According to the BBC, Sri Lanka's army spokesman rejected the allegations, adding most people were 'very happy' with the help they got.

A minority of the families have not been able to go back home at all because their land has been taken by the military or encroached in the government's high-security zones, the report said.

The 361 families who left the farm were taken to a school building at Vattrapalai where they spent Monday night. On Tuesday morning, they were taken to Seeniyamoddai village where a jungle area was bulldozed to clear space for them close to an irrigation tank.

Once the jungle was cleared they were allocated land. They said they were not given any lights, no tents, they only had tarpaulin sheets for shelter. They spent that night in the open space where snakes and insects were also about.

Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, a Tamil politician from the small and radical party, said that the Tamil National People's Front, has also been publicising the situation of the villagers.

"The government hurried to empty the Menik Farm camp because of the universal periodic review on Sri Lanka's human rights situation coming up soon in Geneva," Ponnambalam said.

But Brigadier Vijitha Ravipriya, acting spokesman for Sri Lanka's army, said that virtually all displaced people were returning home and were "very happy" with the help the army was giving and that army camps were only going up on government land.

"I categorically reject the complaints. Some areas are no-go to prevent unnecessary accidents. There are only very limited areas of army camps and they are on government land," Brig Ravipriya added. (ANI)