Photo from Groundviews
Everyone’s predicted that the rains would wreak havoc in the IDP camps, and they have. Groundviews has some of the only photos coming out of there and the Sunday Leader has a story today. I talked to someone in Menik Farm and there is indeed flooding, displacing people once again. It simply isn’t possible to support a city-sized population in these conditions. A city of 250,000 has water and sanitation needs you can’t construct overnight, or even over months. As the rains come in the place will flood, the latrines will overflow and you’ll get another round of water-borne diseases. They’ve got to start letting people out.
I’m not sure exactly why they’re not letting more people out now. I suppose the Rajapakse’s just took a decision and they’re sticking to it. I don’t get how long the orders are going to override practical concerns. Laying concrete under all the tents in Menik Farm is a expensive and gargantuan task. Building semi-permanent housing there would be like rebuilding Kandy plus Galle in a matter of months. More to the point, nobody wants to fund what will be a ghost town.
There are many people in the camps who have family that will take them in. There are many with money to provide for themselves. There are some that would choose to stay. There are some who are LTTE affiliated who I suppose would have to stay. Getting the first two groups out would greatly reduce the congestion in the camps and enable livable conditions for the ones that stay.
This is, in a way, lipstick on a pig. I mean, you can’t actually detain people without charging them. For the women and children especially it’s just morally noxious. Mahinda says he wants to avoid another Iraq where post-war security collapses. Some of those security measures are going below and beyond the law, with much public support. That’s the political reality.
Within that political reality, however, there’s also the physical reality that the camps are overcrowded and the rains are going to cause serious problems. The options are either to improve conditions, let some people out and improve conditions, or let everyone out. I think letting some people out is a path which acknowledges both physical and political reality, but it’s all shit in the end.