Contact: Louise Hill, Communications Officer, Merlin, +44 (0)20 7014 1703, +44 (0) 20 7014 1600
Photo: Merlin is providing aid for more than 20,000 people made homeless by conflict in eastern
Over the past six months, 80,000 people have fled to camps in Batticaloa district in eastern
Merlin is providing medical aid to around 20,000 people at 10 different camps in Batticaloa. "We're running mobile clinics and have set up a surveillance system to control common killers like diarrhoea and hepatitis. We're also providing soap and digging latrines to help people stay clean in the crowded conditions," said Wickramage. "So far we haven't seen major outbreaks of disease, but as more families flee here and the summer heat builds up we're worried that things could get out of control."
Many of the families encountered by Merlin have lost their homes twice in as many years: first in the tsunami disaster and then more recently by offensives against Tamil separatists. "One family I met this week lost everything they had in the tsunami; then, three months ago, just when they had finished building their new home, it took a direct hit from a shell," explained Wickramage. "Along with others from their village, the family fled in the middle of the night, crossing thick jungle and deep rivers. They described how several children drowned and had to be buried under leaves."
Merlin has been working in
"There's nothing to suggest that the number of people fleeing from the fighting is going to lessen," said Michelle Brown, Merlin's Programme Director in