On 4th November, the US House of Representatives urged Sri Lanka’s government to guarantee the safety and quick release of some 300,000 Tamils and other war-displaced people currently held in camps. 1
By an astonishing 421 “for” (and only 1 vote “against”), Congress approved a non-binding resolution that calls on the authorities in Colombo to help the populations of widely condemned, tightly guarded camps return to their homes.
The measure urges Sri Lanka’s government to turn over the operation of the camps to civilians and allow day-to-day access to the camps for the Red Cross, NGOs, and others who care for internally displaced people (IDPs).
It also calls on the government to allow an independent assessment of charges of large numbers of deaths, rampant disease, poor sanitation and poor health care in the camps and a plan to remedy the issues.
How this non-binding resolution will influence the Obama Administration is yet unclear but this, combined with the US State Dept report on gross human rights violations, is a major setback for the Government of Sri Lanka which is said to be retaining leading lobbyists to influence US lawmakers. 2