BBC headline trumpets, “Tamil refugees are allowed home.” But read the article. In fact, only 4,000 of the hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees got to leave the camps this week.
How many refugees are there? The number commonly cited is 300,000– yet BBC says Vavuniya-adjacent Menik Camp alone holds 300,000 displaced people. Anecdotal reports suggest there may be more than half a million refugees in camps throughout northern Sri Lanka.
Every one of those refugees must be “screened,” says the government, “to root out anyone associated with the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels.”
Given that many of these folks lived under the LTTE administration for the last few years, some of them could have been “associated” in administrative ways. Often, the LTTE forcibly drafted at least one son or daughter from every family. What happens to those draftees? To the families who gave them up?
The fighting may have stopped, but the humanitarian crisis is far from over in Sri Lanka.