Cablegate: Report Number Two On Interagency Policy Committee


DE RUEHLM #0854/01 2431054
P 311054Z AUG 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) Colombo 753 B) State 69689 C) Colombo 691

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: This is the second of three monthly reports on the
Government of Sri Lanka's progress in meeting benchmarks as outlined
in Ref B. The start of pre-monsoonal rains this month has created a
heightened urgency among all humanitarian actors, in terms of
accelerating the release of people from Manik Farm and other camps,
accelerating the return of people to their communities of origin
and/or host families, and developing contingency plans for the tens
of thousands of people who will undoubtedly remain in Manik Farm
during the monsoon season. Information sources for this August
report are the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL), United Nations (UN),
and international non-governmental organizations (INGO), as well as
two USAID/OFDA (Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance) technical
experts currently on short-term assignment in Vavuniya town and
Manik Farm.

PRE-MONSOONAL RAINS: On August 14, ten centimeters of rain fell on
Vavuniya District, including the large IDP (internally displaced
persons) complex known as Manik Farm. These first, pre-monsoonal
rains in August caused temporary flooding in several zones of Manik
Farm and considerable concern among humanitarian organizations and
the GSL. Over the past two weeks, there has been a flurry of
activity by both GSL and international organizations. The GSL has
stated their intent to return large numbers of IDPs by September (an
estimate of 100,000 people has been suggested), and has also said
they plan to release members of vulnerable groups from Manik Farm
and other IDP camps. The UN and INGOs are attempting to anticipate
the timing of these events, as well as developing contingency plans
for the probable tens of thousands of IDPs who will remain in Manik
Farm throughout the monsoon season (generally late September through
December). Because of a lack of capacity, or simple refusal, on the
part of the GSL to do coordinated planning, international
humanitarian agencies continue to operate in a reactive mode.

CAMP MANAGEMENT AND ACCESS: Acute humanitarian needs continue to be
met in internally displaced persons camps (IDP) camps, but few
sectors are up to SPHERE standards. Most zones of Manik Farm
continue to be overcrowded, affecting the quality, quantity, and/or
timeliness of service delivery. Along with day-to-day needs, with
the upcoming monsoonal rains, camp management must put more emphasis
on decongestion (through releases and accelerated returns) and on
contingency planning for the monsoons. Although the Sri Lankan Army
(SLA) has generally withdrawn to the external periphery of the
camps, where it provides perimeter security and controls access to
the camps, there are occasional reports of armed military personnel
inside the camps. Local police are visible in the camps, but
maintain a low-key presence. It is also assumed that plainclothes
intelligence personnel operate in camps, to gather information about
LTTE ex-combatants and sympathizers. Each Manik Farm zone has a
civilian zonal commander who is ex-military. No major decisions
about camp management or releases of IDPs are made without the
concurrence of military authorities.

The GSL does not restrict access of the U.N. agencies, INGOs, and
NGOs that are delivering donor-funded goods and services and/or
carrying out relief activities in the IDP camps. In general, these
organizations are satisfied with access. Because of sensitivities
about protection activities with Sri Lankan authorities, access for
protection monitoring remains a concern. A recent attempt by USAID
officials to visit Zones 0 and 1 for comparative analysis was turned
down, with the explanation by the soldier at the entrance gate that
all services in those zones are provided by the GSL.

REGISTRATIONS AND SURRENDEES: As of August 27, the Government of
Sri Lanka (GSL) had completed data entry of approximately 155,000
IDPs and printed ID cards for 105,000 IDPs. Given the current
capacity of producing 15-20,000 cards per week, issuance of data
cards will continue well into October. This ID card appears to be a
prerequisite for permanent release from an IDP camp, although does
not guarantee an IDP will be released. A separate registration

process, conducted by the Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster
Relief Services with technical support by the International
Organization for Migration (IOM), has been completed for all
265,000+ IDPs displaced since 2008. The Ministry shared the
database this week with UNHCR, which is using it for planning
purposes related to returns and release of vulnerable groups. Once
it is more widely distributed, it will be a useful planning tool for
other sectors, such as de-mining.

Over 11,000 LTTE ex-combatants, or surrendees, have been separated
from the general IDP population. They reside in 13 camps in
Vavuniya District. IOM is preparing to begin socio-economic
profiling of ex-combatants, as the first step of the
rehabilitation/reintegration process, once funding is secured. If
an OFAC license is approved, USG funds may support this first step
and be available in September. Part of the GSL's justification for
slow releases of IDPs is their concern that ex-LTTE combatants
remain at large in the IDP camps. Post had been told previously
that up to 10,000 of these additional ex-combatants might remain
among the general IDP population. The Commissioner General of
Rehabilitation told a recent meeting of donors that he estimated an
additional 3-4,000 ex-combatants were still among the IDPs. As part
of this apparently ongoing screening process for LTTE sympathizers,
intelligence services reportedly bring surrendees into the general
camps to point out additional ex-cadres.

RETURNS: Given the added pressure of upcoming rains, the GSL has
announced the accelerated resettlement in September of up to 100,000
IDPs. These would be people whose homes of origin are outside the
Vanni, including places like Jaffna, cleared areas of Vavuniya and
Mannar, and the East. The Army Commander in Vavuniya said that
criteria for the release of vulnerable people from camps would be
relaxed, to include those disabled since birth, young children and
their caregivers, pregnant women, the mentally handicapped, and
severe medical cases (with doctor approval). There is considerable
skepticism that returns of such magnitude will actually occur.
However, though timeframes and planning are unpredictable, these
numbers are more plausible now that the Ministry of Resettlement has
a complete database of the homes of origin of all IDPs. Although
the GSL also talks about a 180-day resettlement plan, no details
have been released to the international community. However, GSL
engineers and technical specialists have made several trips into the
Vanni to develop infrastructure damage assessments, as part of an
overall reconstruction plan financed by multilaterals such as the
World Bank and Asian Development Bank, to support resettlement.
Based in Vavuniya town, there are periodic meetings involving local
district authorities, Government Agents, representatives of line
ministries, and the SLA. The GSL remains adamant that returns (and
supporting operations such as de-mining) will be according to a
"home-grown solution." Although access by foreigners to the Vanni
has been limited, the mine action agencies are slowly being invited
to begin surveys. For example, next week, one USG partner will
travel to Kilinochchi town to plan out work in seven priority grama
sewaka divisions. In the month of August, less than 12,000 of the
pledged 75,000 for the month actually returned home. About two
thirds of them are new IDPs from Manik Farm. There are sometimes
small movements of people from the IDP camps, such as the three
busloads of IDPs observed by USAID officials this week, heading
north out of Manik Farm.

DEMINING: The GSL has still not released a comprehensive mine
action strategy. Given the increasing (and to a considerable degree
unutilized) capacity among USG-funded mine action organizations,
frustration is mounting at the failure to provide additional
taskings and better access to the Vanni. There are indications that
the GSL is developing a de-mining approach based on a south-to-north
strategy, presumably reflecting the first phase of IDP returns that
will include some areas in Mannar. GSL leadership in this sector
and use of available resources remains uncoordinated and ad hoc.
Already, the US Embassy is beginning to think that the
recently-signed four grants with INGOs will require no-cost

extensions next July, due to slowness on the part of the GSL to
assign both survey and de-mining tasks. Demining operations
continue in Jaffna District and in the Rice Bowl area of Mannar
District, and have begun in Northern Vavuniya. Access to
Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts, at this point, is still to be
negotiated and unlikely to occur soon at any sizeable scale. The US
Embassy continues to play a major coordination role among donors and
mine action NGOs, advocating for a more strategic framework and a
planning horizon that will enable our partners to develop at least
three to six months work plans. A public information/signage
campaign has not been launched to local communities in mined areas.


a. Benchmark: Acute humanitarian needs are met with dignity. Key
areas are food, water/sanitation, health, shelter, and protection.

Acute humanitarian needs are being met, although most sectors are
not up to SPHERE's standards. As part of the rush to prepare for
monsoon rains, people are being moved between different zones of
Manik Farm, as well as from camps still operating in Vavuniya town
public buildings. The overall Manik Farm strategy seems to be to
release large numbers of people for returns or to host families,
move some people to higher ground within zones, and to move other
people to Zones 6A, 6B, 7, and 8 (still under construction).

Food (USAID/FFP report). Dry rations (with the USG being the major
donor) are supplied by WFP to all IDPs at Manik Farm and at other
camps. WFP is increasing the daily per capita kilocalorie total to
2100, as a partial response to high rates of malnutrition.
Generally, the transport, storage, and distribution of dry rations
works reasonably well, though there has been some concern related to
the changeover from communal cooking to individual cooking in
several zones. With the August rains, the need for better,
air-tight food storage containers at the household level was
underscored. Along with other NFRIs, the U.N. will be providing
waterproof food storage units in preparation for the monsoon season.
Complementary food - mostly condiments, along with some fresh
produce and other protein sources - is in short supply and, in some
locations, no longer available. Donors (including the USG) do not
consider complementary food a lifesaving priority, and, since it is
costly, most INGOs have depleted their resources. There is concern
that the lack of complementary food for those people who can't
afford to purchase it from camp stores will heighten an already
growing sense of frustration among IDPs. Along with other UN
agencies, WFP is developing a plan to respond to GSL announcements
that there will be a large exodus of IDPs from camps over the coming

Water (USAID/OFDA report). Manik Farm is far from ideal from a
water supply standpoint. However, generally, people are receiving
adequate quantities of water, though this varies by zone and within
zones, and water quality is a potential concern, especially looking
ahead to likely sanitation problems resulting from increased
rainfall. The difficulty of providing water for 260,000 people has
led to a unique and fragile system. Three primary sources of water
exist within Manik Farms camps: tube wells, bowser delivery, and a
raw water pipe. The raw water pipe provides water for bathing
purposes only and is non-potable. Most zones have all three types
of sources available, but access varies by block, even within a
zone. Each block manages its own water distribution and is
protective of its water. In cases where neighboring blocks lack
water, some sharing between blocks does occur, though usually
limited to a few liters per family.

Groundwater sources currently only produce enough water to sustain a
small population. UNICEF is investigating the local
hydro-geological structures to attempt to identify a higher
production aquifer in the area. Bowsering water to Manik Farms is a

large scale operation and is very expensive and labor intensive. In
recent months, there has only been one significant interruption to
the provision of water, occurring during the recent rainfall two
weeks ago. At that time, the turbidity of the river drastically
increased due to runoff. The additional particle load caused
problems for both the river pumps and the filtration operation. The
pumps could not handle the additional sediment and had to be shut
down for a reported 30 hour period. Before the pumps were shut
down, the water treatment plants were also unable to deal with the
change in raw water quality. The additional sediment overloaded the
filters, and the treatment plants too had to be shut down. Thus,
the rain shut down the bowser operation and the piped water supply,
leaving only tube wells to supply all of Manik Farm. Since the tube
wells do not supply enough water and many IDPs lack access to tube
wells, there was a water shortage.

There are other risks to the water supply system during periods of
intense rain, and water shortage will likely become a significant
problem as rainfall increases. It is expected that the road
conditions will deteriorate rapidly, affecting a bowser operation
already stretched to fill each of the 1,000 liter tanks scattered
throughout Manik Farm once per day. The GSL is expected to put
weight restrictions on vehicles entering Manik Farm to reduce the
impact on the road surface. When larger bowsers are prohibited,
more trips will need to be made by smaller ones. As the roads
become impassable, there will be fewer deliveries to some blocks
within the zones (in Zones 2 and 4, blocks contain from 900 to 2400

Chlorinated water contains measureable residual chlorine which
prevents drinking water from becoming contaminated during collection
and storage. The bowsered water is all chlorinated, and IDPs are
encouraged to use it for drinking water. However, most IDPs prefer
drinking water from tube wells, because it is not chlorinated and
tastes better. This water is much more likely to become
contaminated during collection and storage than the chlorinated
water supply and significantly increases the likelihood of the
spread of contagious waterborne disease. Additionally, with rising
groundwater and flooding during the monsoons, there is increased
likelihood of groundwater (and tube well) contamination from
overflowing latrines. The WASH Cluster is considering chlorination
of the tube well water. IDPs will likely attempt to catch rainwater
during water shortages. Collected rainwater will also contain no
chlorine and be susceptible to contamination by dirty hands or dirty
storage containers.

The WASH Cluster in Vavuniya is very active and functioning well.
It is developing a "Monsoon Contingency Plan" to identify potential
problems in the delivery of safe drinking water due to heavy
rainfall, and to analyze and compare options to mitigate the impact.
The cluster is doing everything it can to resolve these problems,
considering physical limitations with the site and complications of
working with the GSL.

Hygiene Promotion (USAID/OFDA report). Hygiene promotion is very
active in Manik Farm. Hygiene kits are distributed to families and
education is provided. At Manik Farm, Hygiene promotion is a
subcategory of the overall health promotion activities. There are
both paid health promoters and un-paid health volunteers. They
monitor hygiene conditions, observe IDP practices, and provide
targeted messages through direct education and theatrical
productions. Volunteers visit tents as well as public facilities
during their daily activities. The WASH Cluster provides direction
to these activities.

Sanitation (USAID/OFDA report). SPHERE standards set a goal of 20
IDPs per latrine. At Manik Farm, the number of IDPs per latrine
varies from block to block. In most blocks there are more than 20
IDPs per latrine, the number is particularly high in many blocks of
zone 2. In these locations, there is limited space for the
construction of additional latrines. They are congested, and the

latrine pits fill quickly. "Gully Suckers" (sewage pumper trailers
pulled by tractors) empty latrine pits and transport the wastewater
to an outside disposal site (wastewater ponds) approximately 3 km
away from IDP camps. The number of gully suckers is known to be
very insufficient to empty full latrine pits in a timely manner, and
many full pits remain full for long periods of time. In some
blocks, people stop using latrines that have full pits; in others,
the full latrines continue to be used and overflow. Full pits put
many blocks even further out of compliance with SPHERE guidelines
and all too frequently lead to open sewage above ground around
latrine blocks. Because soils at Manik Farm have a very low
percolation rate, water in the latrine pits does not seep into the
soils very quickly. Latrine construction includes "pour-flush squat
toilets" mounted in either a plastic or a cement latrine slab. IDPs
use water to flush the toilet, adding additional volumes of water
into the pit. This practice causes the pits to fill more quickly.
Since the GSL continues to state that they plan to release large
numbers of IDPs from Manik Farms, the WASH Cluster is hesitant to
purchase additional gully suckers as these are costly items that
would not be needed once IDPs are moved out of Manik Farm. UNICEF
is currently doing groundwater mapping to identify the blocks of
each zone where rains will cause a rising water table to flood
latrines. In these areas, latrines will likely be decommissioned.
Subsequently, shelters will likely be decommissioned due to the lack
of latrines, effectively vacating some blocks and putting greater
numbers of IDPs into others.

The current wastewater pond is reaching its capacity. There have
been five holding ponds constructed since March to hold the
wastewater from the latrine pits. Each of the constructed ponds has
filled within a month. When one fills the GSL builds a new one.
These actions are unplanned and reactionary. Since the clay soils
in the Manik Farm area have a very slow percolation rate, the ponds
hold and store the wastewater with very little infiltrating into the
ground. Reportedly a new wastewater lagoon with an engineering
design is being constructed at a new location, but this lagoon is
not expected to be completed for at least a few weeks. It is not
expected that the current pond will be able to handle the capacity
of wastewater until the new lagoon is completed, so it is likely
that another pond will be constructed. One pond has already leaked
a significant amount of wastewater into the surrounding jungle when
its berm breached. It is feasible that if a large volume of
wastewater were to escape the ponds it could find its way to the
river upstream from the main water intake points.

Storm drainage is now being constructed in Zones 0 - 4 to mitigate
flooding, and will be constructed in all zones. Engineers have
designed the storm drains and expect them to be able to handle most
rainfalls in monsoon season. The storm drains are simply trenches
dug with backhoes around each block with culverts under roadways.
If these storm drains fail, resulting flooding could expose IDPs to
wastewater from flooded latrines. Roads could be washed out if
culverts do not function properly, limiting access to some blocks.
A significant amount of maintenance on the drainage system will be

Trash is being collected within the camps and transported via
tractor for burning and disposal to the vicinity of the wastewater
ponds, approximately 3 km from the IDP camps. Final disposal is not
well coordinated and large quantities of burned and partly burned
trash is scattered throughout the area surrounding the wastewater
ponds. The trash does not pose any direct threat to IDPs at this
time. If trash collection in the camps were to cease, trash could
block culverts and affect drainage.

Health (USAID/OFDA report). Health care services. Each zone has an
appropriate number of primary health care centers (PHCC), typically
two to four per zone. Aside from clinical care, the PHCCs also act
as a referral point to each zone's referral facility (essentially an
ad-hoc field hospital), which provides acute inpatient care and
basic, once-daily laboratory services. If further care is needed,

referrals are made to one of three hospitals located outside the
camps (one of which is operated by an NGO with ex-patriate staff).
Despite the cumbersome security measures, the referral services are
reasonably intact (to prevent escape attempts, security clearance
and a security chaperone are required for each out-of-camp

All health programs in the camps must be operated and staffed by the
MoH/GSL - no ex-patriate individuals are allowed to provide clinical
care to IDPs within the camps. (NGOs play purely a supportive role:
health facility structures, referral transport, medical supplies,
etc.) This has been a source of tension between the MoH and health
agencies, as there are concerns about the quality and experience of
the clinicians in the health facilities, many of whom have been
recruited from other districts on a short-term rotational basis. It
has been a challenge to recruit national physicians as many are
reluctant to trade their lucrative private practices for the
austerity and workload of the IDP health facilities.

Only recently have significant efforts been made to ensure adequate
staffing in all the camps' health facilities - yet, on occasion it
possible to still find PHCC's without clinicians. Clinicians are
consistently seeing approximately 100-125 patients per day, far
above the SPHERE standard of 50 per day. Patient utilization rates
have not been reported, and provisions for 24-hour on-call
clinicians in each zone's referral site have only recently been

Also, a majority of the national staff are of Sinhalese descent, and
do not speak Tamil (the language of the IDPs) - this requires the
use of mostly unskilled translators, which is highly inefficient and
can compromise quality and patient confidentiality. This system
does, however, allow for familiarity with national clinical
protocols. Overall, the residents appear to have reasonably
equitable access to health care without discrimination, the main
limitation being the burden of the high patient-to-clinician case

Reproductive health is being addressed reasonably adequately
according to standard MoH guidelines and services. For nutrition,
supplementary feeding commodities are being distributed largely by
local and international NGO's on referral basis only (one NGO
reports only being allowed to distribute supplementary foods, but
not to weigh and measure the children). Most agencies are
experiencing a heavy but decreasing caseload over the past several
weeks. Measures to address other pertinent health conditions such
as psychosocial health, chronic diseases, and trauma-related
physical disabilities will be critical to address in the upcoming

Health surveillance and indicators. The foundation of the weekly
disease reporting system has just been bolstered by the "permanent"
installation public health inspectors (PHI). The mandate of these
retired MoH public health service personnel is to collect and
collate case counts, supervise home follow-up for various "diseases
of suspicion," identify environmental public health risks such as
water and sanitation conditions, and improve the reporting for
outbreaks for the early warning disease detection system. Despite
skepticism from health agencies, only over the coming weeks will it
be determined if this helps to improve the perceived inefficiency,
inaccuracy, and opacity of the camps' public health reporting.

Although many communicable diseases have been reported by the MoH,
only a few have been confirmed by laboratory testing (shigella,
hepatitis A, and varicella). Others, such as typhoid, diarrhea,
respiratory infections and pneumonia, measles, and meningitis cases
have been clinically diagnosed, but without adequate laboratory
confirmation. All reported disease trends are at much lower levels
than eight to twelve weeks ago, and are decreased or stable over the
past four weeks. However, mortality and proportional morbidities,
age and sex breakdown, and utilization rates are not being reported

(part of the difficulty is that the GSL/MoH has been reluctant to
provide even basic demographic data, such as sex and age breakdowns,
but instead has confirmed only total population numbers).

Benchmark health data comes from a single survey in mid-late May.
There were significant methodological and analytical inconsistencies
in the survey which resulted in an under-estimation of key
indicators. Nonetheless, the reported 3-month recall crude
mortality rate (CMR) was 2.8 deaths/10,000 persons/day (South Asia
baseline and emergency threshold according to SPHERE/UNICEF are 0.25
and 0.5, respectively). The under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) was 1.3
deaths/10,000 persons/day (South Asia baseline and emergency
threshold are 0.6 and 1.2, respectively). Both of these indicators
are well above the emergency thresholds. (The CMR is typically
lower than the U5MR, except in circumstances when much of the adult
population, typically young male combatants, have recently been
affected by medium to large scale violent conflict. This ratio
should reverse in the follow up survey.)

Also indicative of a critical humanitarian emergency, the global and
severe acute malnutrition prevalences were 35.6% and 8.8%,
respectively; and the two-week incident diarrhea and respiratory
infection rates for childQ under 5 were 42.0% and 61.9%,
respectively. Also, household sizes are 2-3 times largerQan
allowed for in SPHERE guidelines, an environment conducive to the
spread of communicable diseases. A follow-up survey will be
performed in early September, which will be critical to monitor
since all of these main indicators were at considerably alarming

Health cluster coordination. The health sector is widely
acknowledgedQong the various agencies and sectors to have the
weakest leadership and coordination capabilities. The cluster is
led by a constantly rotating team of MoH/WHO representatives. Aside
from concerns about competence, it has been speculated that the
weakness in cluster coordination is due to an introverted and
secretive GSL MoH; also of concern is the MoH international
counterpart, health cluster co-lead (WHO), whose long-term
relationship with the MoH disallows any true independent leadership
or advocacy. (In fairness, the MoH/WHO representatives at the local
level are severely burdened by administrative duties, limiting their
ability to pro-actively address urgent health needs).

The health clusters meet every 1-2 weeks in both Colombo and
Vavuniya where updates from each sub-sector are given and disease
trend data are disseminated. The "weekly" disease trends are
reported inconsistently, and until the week of this assessment, no
MoH representative has recently been attending the health cluster
meetings in Vavuniya. Fortunately, several NGO health agencies have
been able fill in and address gaps for coordinating and advocating
for IDP health services. In terms of personnel for the health
cluster in general, key health positions within the MoH, pertinent
UN agencies, and INGO's will be experiencing turnover in the coming
weeks potentially creating a gap of critical contextual knowledge
and experience.

There has not been a widely-disseminated plan from the MoH for
health services and communicable disease control related to the
uQming monsoon season. With the monsoons imminent, health-related
concerns include structural integrity, water-related communicable
andQctor-born diseases, health facility staffing, and compromised
drinking water sources and sanitation. However, the health cluster
has recently conducted some large-scale interventions should help to
reduce the IDPs' vulnerability to public health threats such as
measles and polio campaigns (rQrted >95% coverage) and de-worming
therapy and vitamin A supplementation for children; aggressive
screening and referral of the acutely malnourished; and community
health and hygiene education campaigns.

Overall, the health sector has just reached a very minimum level of
adequate capacity. However, these recent gains are extremely

tenuous and will take a great deal of aggressive effort,
coordination, and leadership to maintain, especially in light of
some very imminent challenges such as the upcoming monsoon season,
pending resettlement and release of IDPs, and turnover of key staff
from the MoH, UN agencies, and INGOs. Factors to monitor and
address include the improvement of environmental health conditions
such as water and sanitation services and decongestion of households
and camps; provision of appropriate quantity and quality (including
language capabilities) of clinical staff; enhancement of laboratory
capacities for all referral centers and case-confirmation of
outbreak-prone diseases; and contingency plans for anticipated
flooding, with consideration of impacts on health facility
structures, community vector-control, and supply lines for health
commodities. Also, the disease surveillance and outbreak reporting
system will hopefully improve with the placement of the new PHI's -
but basic demographic data must be shared with health agencies; and
the aforementioned upcoming health and nutrition survey will provide
critical follow-up data as to the condition of the health sector and
the humanitarian emergency as a whole.

Shelter (UNHCR report). The pre-monsoonal rains resulted in
flooding and damage to shelters in Zones 1-4. In Zones 1-3, where
drainage works had commenced, the situation was more manageable.
Shelter maintenance crews are now doing repair work on shelters, and
these works tend to be fairly minor. Zone 4 was the most severely
affected by the rains, because there were no existing drainage
works. With coordination by UNHCR, partners have since intensified
their efforts to complete drainage works in all zones before the
monsoon starts in earnest. In zones which are to receive people
moved out of overcrowded conditions, UNHCR is advocating for
increased involvement of the SLA, IOM and other national actors to
accelerate the process. Communal buildings, which can be converted
to emergency shelter areas, have been identified within the zones as
part of contingency planning for the upcoming monsoon. These have
been approved by the SLA and zonal commanders. Despite ongoing
drainage and shelter strengthening activities, there is general
consensus that IDP sites will still be greatly affected by
persistent rainfall, and evacuation plans are being drawn up to take
them to public buildings in town.

Protection (UNHCR report). After conducting a mid-term review of the
UN's "Balance Sheet," the UN Humanitarian Coordinator will submit
the review to the humanitarian community and to the GSL. UNHCR will
contribute findings and recommendations from the IDP Protection
Working Group.

UNHCR has reached an agreement with the Ministry for Disaster
Management and Human Rights (MDMHR) to establish community centers
in Manik Farm. The MDMHR will coordinate these centers and ensure
that the Ministry for Child Development and Women's Empowerment,
Human Rights Commission, and the Ministry for Social Welfare have a
presence. The local NGO, the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies
(CHA), funded by UNHCR, will establish information notice boards at
the centers. The aim of the project is to facilitate the provision
of information to IDPs and ensure that they are able to access
government protection services that they may require.

Women's and Children's Desks have been set up in Zones 0, 1, and 2,
and Women Development Officers have been assigned. UNHCR is further
supporting the Desks through monitoring visits and the provision of
office equipment. UNHCR is also working with the management of the
medical facilities to put in place a Sexual and Gender-Based
Violence reporting and response system. The Ministry for Child
Development and Women's Empowerment opened a Children's home next to
Zone 4 in Manik Farm. The home will house unaccompanied minors and
children on protective orders from Manik Farm and surrounding
districts. Help Age, with the support of UNHCR, is conducting
training for volunteers on care for the elderly in Vavuniya IDP
sites, to increase the capacity to assist elderly IDPs in the camps.
Also in Vavuniya, a bus service has been established to facilitate
visits to surrendees by their relatives accommodated in Manik Farm


b. Benchmark: The Sri Lankan Army is withdrawn to the external
periphery of camps and local police provide law and order within

The Sri Lankan Army (SLA) has mostly withdrawn to the external
periphery of the camps, where it provides perimeter security and
controls access to the camps. However, there are reports of armed
soldiers occasionally seen in some of the zones of Manik Farm.
Local police are visible in the camps, but they maintain a low-key

During the night of the first rains in Manik Farm, a few hundred
IDPs gathered at the entrance to Zone 4 to complain about conditions
and ask for assistance. The SLA was quick to respond in assisting
families to move their belongings to higher ground and to arrange
for ad hoc feeding and drinking water.

c. Benchmark: Civilian government agents are placed in charge of
IDP camps.

Each zone of Manik Farm has a zonal commander - an ex-military
civilian with good ties to the military. Within each zone, each
block has representatives from the grama sewaka level (local
government officials reflecting the normal administrative structure
outside the camps). These IDP civilian authorities meet weekly with
the zonal commanders and SLA personnel.

Mrs. P.S.M. Charles, the Government Agent (GA) for Vavuniya
District, continues to play a major, day-to-day oversight role for
the IDP camps in her district. She has also been extensively
involved in discussions about releases of IDPs from the camp (for
example, vulnerable groups) and about returns.

There has been no replacement for the previous competent authority,
who relinquished his control in July.


a. Benchmark: If the GSL cannot provide adequate goods and services
within the camps, the GSL facilitates the provision of donor-funded
goods and services to meet humanitarian needs.

No change from July report. The GSL does not restrict access of
U.N. agencies, INGOs, and NGOs that are delivering donor-funded
goods and services and/or carrying out relief activities in the IDP
camps. However, due to the fact that there are no written procedures
on access to the IDP camps, and the tendency of zonal commanders to
make their own decisions on the spot, access is at times

b. Benchmark: The GSL provides reasonable permission and access for
donors and implementing partners, such as the UNHCR, ICRC, and NGOs,
to monitor distribution of donor-funded goods, programs, and
services in camps.

The GSL does not have a policy that restricts access by
humanitarian agencies that deliver emergency relief commodities and
other materials to the camps. In addition, the GSL provides
reasonable access for donors and implementing partners, such as
UNHCR and NGOs, to monitor distribution of donor-funded goods and
services in the camps. ICRC continues to discuss a revised mandate
with the GSL, and has not been involved in the IDP camps in the
North since the July report.

c. Benchmark: The GSL provides permission and access for

international organizations and implementing partners to address
protection issues.

Because of participatory assessments conducted over the past months,
UNHCR has made substantial progress coordinating with GSL
authorities on a range of protection issues involving women,
children, and vulnerable groups. UNHCR protection officers continue
to monitor potential protection risks associated with camp
overcrowding and are in close liaison with authorities at all
levels. Protection issues raised include family separations,
maintaining law and order, as well as reducing risks associated with
sexual and gender based violence.


a. Benchmark: The GSL completes a database of all IDPs and shares
the database with the United Nations.

From March 15 through August 27, the Office of the President's
National Data Center entered data for approximately 155,000 out of
approximately 266,000 IDPs. This data entry process will likely
conclude in early October. Plastic ID cards (or, in the case of
Jaffna, paperwork) have been issued for approximately 105,000 IDPs.
No IDPs have been allowed to return without this ID card. The UN
does not have access to this database.

A separate database, based on a much more extensive questionnaire,
has been completed for the 265,000+ IDPs affected by the last round
of displacement this past year. This database is with the Ministry
of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services, which has shared it
with UNHCR.

b. Benchmark: ID cards and other documents are issued to IDPs with
safeguards to prevent corruption.

As of August 27, the GSL had issued approximately 105,000 ID cards
to IDPs.

The Office of the President's National Data Center reported that
approximately 50 percent of IDPs do not possess a National ID Card
(NIC). Working with IOM, the National Data Center is planning to
reissue NICs to IDPs who do not have them.

c. Benchmark: All possible family reunifications take place.

Family Reunifications: As of August 10, the GSL had reunited 6,860
families within the IDP camps.


a. Benchmark: Combatants are identified, disarmed, and separated
from the general IDP population.

The Ministry of Justice reports that there are now over 11,000
ex-combatants in 13 temporary camps (public buildings such as
schools), mostly in Vavuniya District. IOM expects to have access
to these people, once they begin the socio-economic profiling
exercise, as a precursor to the rehabilitation and reintegration
programs to be undertaken over the coming year. There is no update
on the number of former combatants (2,361) mentioned in the July
report, as having been arrested under the Emergency Regulations and
the Prevention of Terrorism Act. This latter group of detainees is
located in several facilities around the country, including Colombo.
The ICRC reported in July that they have not had access to the
surrendees in Vavuniya since early July.

b. Benchmark: A formal process of demobilization, in line with
international commitments, is initiated.

No change since the July report. A steering committee on
reintegration, chaired by the Ministry of Disaster Management and
Human Rights, approved the National Framework Proposal for
Reintegration of Ex-Combatants into Civilian Life in Sri Lanka on
July 30. The Ministry of Justice has been given responsibility for
rehabilitation and reintegration to a new Commissioner General for
Rehabilitation, Major General Daya Ratnayake, has been named. At
the same time, the Ministry of Defense has requested the IOM to
assist with preparation of facilities to serve as demobilization
camps in Vavuniya and to begin profiling surrendees to identify
counseling and training needs. IOM, with a grant from USAID, has
already initiated this process in the Eastern Province. The process
will be guided by the framework, which defines legal and practical
issues related to reintegration. It is anticipated that since the
framework has been approved and profiling of former combatants could
begin soon, an action plan will be drafted in collaboration with
relevant ministries and international partners.

c. Benchmark: No new children are recruited and previous child
soldiers are identified, separated, and put into a UN program.

No new children were recruited since the end of the war in May

As of July 15, UNICEF had registered 455 former child combatants,
including 299 males and 156 females, in Vavuniya. UNICEF will be
updating data on child combatants in September.


a. Benchmark: The GSL establishes criteria to define "no-risk"
IDPs, in addition to the elderly and disabled.

According to the SLA Commander in Vavuniya, the GSL is in the
process of expanding its definition of "no-risk" IDPs from just the
elderly (over 60 years of age) to include the disabled from birth,
severe medical cases, pregnant women, the mentally handicapped, and
small children with caregivers. The U.N. continues to advocate for
the timely release of persons with specific needs, as well as for
broadening the categories of people eligible for immediate release.

b. Benchmark: Release of "no-risk" IDPs to host families and
communities continues at an acceptable pace (on track for 25%-50% by
the end of calendar 2009).

As of August 19, 2009 the GSL had released 6,237 persons from IDP
camps into host families and elders' homes. Some people estimate
that, with the expanded criteria mentioned above, up to 30,000
vulnerable people could be released in the near future.


a. Benchmark: The GSL widely communicates a voluntary returns
strategy for the North, including for IDPs.

The GSL has not communicated a voluntary returns strategy
for the north, including for IDPs. Whereas in July, Senior
Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa had briefed U.N. heads of
agencies on the GSL's IDP 180-Day Returns Plan and pledged the
return of 75,000 people in August, there were no more than 12,000
returns during the month. Now, the GSL is estimating that 100,000
IDPs will return during the month of September. With unmet promises
in the past, these predictions of returns are viewed with skepticism

by the international community. When returns do take place, they
are unannounced, making it difficult for the UN to respond (UNHCR
with returns kits, IOM with transport support, WFP with food
rations). The UNHCR released two important documents in draft to a
gathering of major donors this past week: 1) The UNHCR Operations
Plan Support to Phased IDP Return in Northern Sri Lanka, and 2)
Resettlement and Decongestion of IDP Camps Prior to Monsoon Season.
The US Embassy is working with other donors and the UN to develop
positions regarding support to GSL returns/resettlement, releases to
host families, and any further assistance to Manik Farm. A growing
feeling among donors is that lack of freedom of movement for IDPs in
camps in the North contravenes international, and possibly Sri
Lankan, law, in terms of the detention of people without charges.
In the coming weeks, the international community will discuss the
options for further assistance to Manik Farm and other "temporary"
IDP sites, given the context of monsoonal rains, the lack of freedom
of movement, and progress made on returns/resettlement and releases
to host families.

b. Benchmark: The GSL begins voluntary returns to areas of high

The GSL has not yet begun voluntary returns in significant numbers.
As of the end of August, likely returns for this month are 11,365
IDPs, of whom 8,024 are from the new caseload (locations like Manik
Farm). Many of these people have returned to homes in the East, and
none have returned to locations in the Vanni.


The US Government is contributing $6.6 million this year to four
INGO mine action agencies operating in the North. In July, this
additional funding opened the door for US Embassy officials to
encourage the GSL to be more strategic with its de-mining task
orders, in support of its proclaimed intent to accelerate IDP
returns to the North. However, the GSL did not reveal a strategic
framework for de-mining or IDP returns which was realistic in its
timeframe, numerical goals, or locations. Meanwhile, the US Embassy
instructed these four INGO partners to ramp up operations (hiring
survey and de-mining teams to maximum potential), in anticipation
that there would be an eventual, logical, returns-based push on the
part of the GSL to increase mine action. However, two months into
this 12-month grant cycle, there are 15 unutilized survey teams,
eight unutilized de-mining teams, and soon-to-be seven additional
de-mining teams by mid-September, looking for work. When the US
Embassy communicated its concern to high levels of the GSL, the
response was less than courteous.

a. Benchmark: The GSL releases mine action strategy for Mannar and
continues surveys for remaining areas in the North by July 15,2009.

The GSL has not released a mine action strategy. Slowly, though,
it is possible to divine a correlation between de-mining and IDP
returns. Some of the recent survey and de-mining task orders in the
Rice Bowl, for example, will support returns to that area.
Strategically, the mine action agencies have been asked to focus
their efforts in the Rice Bowl, moving north through Manthai West
(in Mannar District), and in North Vavuniya, moving north toward
Kilinochchi. A reluctance by the GSL to assign more task orders for
survey work in the Vanni will mean a slower-than-necessary pace of
area reduction, or releasing land for IDPs whose homes are in the
districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. IDP returns to those
districts, as a result of mine action work, will not occur in
significant numbers until 2010.

b. Benchmark: Demining begins in support of areas of high priority
for IDP returns by August 15, 2009.

Demining operations are underway in Jaffna District and the Rice
Bowl of Mannar District. These districts will receive returning
IDPs during the first phase of the unfolding GSL
returns/resettlement strategy.

c. Benchmark: The GSL coordinates with international and local
demining organizations on surveys and mine-removal efforts.

The GSL has improved its coordination with INGO and NGO mine action
agencies, and there is a promise of additional work in the month
ahead. However, the GSL has not yet utilized many of the increased
survey and de-mining teams developed as a result of State/WRA
funding. Neither has the GSL indicated where SLA de-mining
operations are taking place, although the assumption is that they
are working in priority areas of the Vanni where the GSL does not
feel comfortable admitting INGOs.

d. Benchmark: A public information/signage campaign is launched to
local communities in mined areas.

A public information/signage campaign has not been launched in local


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>

Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>