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Cablegate: Government of Sri Lanka's Pronouncements To

VZCZCXRO6987
OO RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHLM #0887/01 2591240
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161240Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0525
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 1900
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 8926
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7164
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RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3300
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RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 1357
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0615
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4190
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9491
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 6792
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RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 3731
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000887

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA'S PRONOUNCEMENTS TO
DECONGEST MANIK FARM CAMPS UNFULFILLED

COLOMBO 00000887 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: ADCM attended meeting September 16 called
by UN Resident Coordinator to brief Heads of Mission and aid
agencies on recent IPD returns. Starting on September 11,
approximately 2,7000 IDPs were moved from Manik Farm in
Vavuniya and are currently being held in closed transit sites
(no freedom of movement) in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa
and Ampara districts while local security forces conduct
additional security screening. UNHCR confirmed that prior to
this September 11 movement, only 6,200 persons have been
released from Manik Farm to their homes or to host families.
UN reports that yesterday the host family option has been
stopped by the GSL. UNHCR anticipates that a maximum of
16,000 persons will be resettled by the GSL prior to the
onset of the monsoons in early October. With significant
portions of Manik Farm identified by a UNICEF groundwater
survey as becoming uninhabitable with the rains, coupled with
the failure of the GSL to decongest the camp, a dire
situation in Manik Farm is predicted. End summary

Newly released IDPs are in closed transit sites
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) The GSL announced last week that 9,900 persons would
be returned from Manik Farm to their homes. On September 11,
2,700 IDPs were moved from Manik Farm sites to Jaffna,
Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara districts. As of
September 16, all 2,700 persons are being held in transit
sites in these districts without freedom of movement. In
Ampara, the IDPs are being held in an abandoned army camp,
directly connected to the Akkairaipattu Sri Lanka Army camp.
UN resrep stated that the reason given by the new competent
authority, the Vanni Security Forces Commander, for not
releasing the IDPs is that even though they have cleared
security screening conducted in Vavuniya, the quote district
people know better unquote. The UN has discussed this with
Basil Rajapakse who claims this situation will prevail for
just 3-4 days. The current situation falls short of the
GSL's pronouncements in the media last week that 9,900
persons from Manik Farm would be returned to their homes this
week.

3. (SBU) ADCM asked UNHCR to clarify exactly how many IDPs
have been released from Manik Farm prior to this most recent
release September 11. UNHCR stated that 200 IDPs have been
returned to their homes and 6,000 have been released to host
families. With the population of Manik Farm around 220,000
persons, the GSL,s actions to date fall far short of the
decongestion which needs to take place before the monsoon
rains begin.

Donor support to new closed sites?
----------------------------------

4. (SBU) The UN stated that they and donor countries will
need to decide what sort of support, if any, is provided to
the new district closed transit sites and for how long. IOM
and UNICEF reported that they are in the process of
considering whether they should provide food and logistical
support to the new transit sites. The UN stated that the
GSL may ask for support to create new closed camps in the
districts as a way to decongest Manik Farm.
Among the countries represented at the meeting:
Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, EU, India, UK and US
definitively stated they would not support building new
closed camps outside of Vavuniya to accommodate the Manik
Farm IDPs. The India DCM voiced his Government's displeasure
with the quote nasty surprise unquote with the closed transit
camps and said we are all faced with a moral hazard and that
the GSL has shown quote despicable tendencies unquote.
Japanese Ambassador alone stated that moving the IDPs out to

COLOMBO 00000887 002.6 OF 002


better conditions was a positive step, and that they would
support the closed transit sites while putting pressure on
the GSL.

5. (SBU) ADCM outlined options that Post has put forward
regarding freedom of movement and that the USG is considering
whether to maintain the status quo of assistance to the
closed camps or redirecting assistance to supporting returns,
host family and open camps. All present, except Japan,
voiced their agreement with the latter approach, while
recognizing the reality that support will need to be
continued to Manik Farm for the duration of the monsoon
season.

Host Family Option off the table
--------------------------------

6. (SBU) UN resrep reported that the GSL has stopped the host
family option as of September 15, even though this option was
announced by Minister Samarasinghe at the Human Rights
Council. It had been reported last week that advertisements
had been placed in vernacular papers asking host family
relatives to apply if they had relatives in the camps. With
a requirement for eight GSL signatures to approve, this
option would likely not result in major releases in the
short-term.

IDPs Restive
------------

7. (SBU) UNHCR reported that the IDPs are becoming frustrated
with the situation -- those that are being held in the closed
transit camps in the districts as well as those in Manik
Farm. UNICEF stated that the level of anger among the IDPs
is growing, people are desperate to get out and riots may
occur in the future.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: UN Undersecretary Pascoe arrives tonight
and will be traveling to Mannar, Jaffna and Vavuniya. He
will also be meeting with Basil Rajapaksa, the Secretary of
Defense and the President and will raise these issues. UN
plans to raise these issues during his visit. Overall, there
is a broad consensus among the countries represented -- other
than Japan -- that we should continue providing humanitarian
assistance to Manik Farm through the monsoon season; that we
should phase down our support to Manik Farm in line with the
GSL 180 day plan o/a December; that we should support returns
and short transit; and that donors should not support closed
camps. The dilemma will come when Manik Farm is flooded and
because significant decongestion has not taken place, we can
anticipate that donors will be pressured to support temporary
closed camps.
BUTENIS

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