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Audio: Detention Camps and Hospitals Overflow with Victims of GOSL’s Safe Zone Assault

April 30, 2009


Healthcare workers, including MSF, struggle to cope with 1000s of maimed and injured civilians following the Sri Lankan government’s assault on the Safe Zone.

MSF Coordinator Lisbeth List working in Vavuniya Hospital in the securitized frontier Tamil town (where government Boer-style concentration camps are located) recounts the overwhelming casualty load inundating hospitals on a daily basis; they’re still bracing for the anticipated full scale assault on the Safe Zone.

In the second recording, MSF’s Dr. Paul McMaster at the Vavuniya hospital, talks about round the clock amputations, injured orphaned children, entire families being operated on, psychological trauma, and other horrors that innocent Tamils are being subjected to as a result of the government’s relentless barrage on the Safe Zone.

Click here to listen to the recordings:

Note: The area to which fleeing civilians are brought is a town that has been in government control for well over a decade. Yet its residents cannot leave without prior permission, NGOs need clearance to access the area, journalists are almost never allowed in without government permission and oversight by handlers.

An NGO worker gave us (terrified that the organization might loose access and jeopardize the lives of the staff and IDPs they serve) some idea of the horrors that await the civilians ‘saved’ by GOSL. He says, there is never enough food to eat, barely enough medicines, displacees with serious injuries are not given medical access and instead are shipped to the camps. Likewise, those suffering from infectious diseases are segregated in sections of the camps with no one to look after them.

A number of clergy (including Christian & Hindu) and NGO staff (including UN employees) are being held in these camps with their families; families (children from parents) are separated at checkpoints.

Journalists have little to no access (apart from some government conducted/authorised tours). There are few who can speak out openly as NGOs have been expelled en masse, staff murdered and other measures taken against them by the state.

A European NGO has reported hearing cases of mass rapes and disappearances as well.

This not surprising. “Sri Lanka’s government is one of the world’s worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances, US-based pressure group Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.”

And widespread sexual violence against Tamil women by both the Government of Sri Lanka and the Indian Peace Keeping Force (1987-1990) has been well-documented.

For pictures from these camps please see:

You can also read other firsthand accounts about these camps in our testimonials section.

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