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The truth about Lanka''s secret refugee camps revealed
Colombo, May 24 : They squat in a circle, grinding their tiny hands nervously into the mud behind the six foot high barbed wire fence that imprisons them. And their little eyes stare wide open in fear at what lies on the other side. This is the Pulmoddai refugee camp in war-torn northern Sri Lanka, where soldiers sit, each one ten yards apart, their AK47 assault rifles trained at the 6,000 terrified refugees huddled inside.

This, according to the News of The World, is the terrifying aftermath of Asia''s longest civil war.

Speaking to the tabloid in the belief that their representatives are aid workers, the official in charge of the Pulmoddai compound claimed the Tamil women and children were being "held" for their own safety.

"We are protecting these people. This is why there are so many soldiers here. There might be Tamil Tigers in there and we cannot just let them come and go. They have water and shelter and they are happy to be free of the war," the official is quoted, as saying.

A charity worker, however, gives a very different view: "The children, their mothers, their grandmothers, they can''t get out. They are trapped behind barbed wire with guns trained on them, innocent children. This is a prison camp, a Nazi-like detention camp that evokes the worst fears of humanity."

And if the children of this bloody war are not being held in camps, they are in a different kind of hell-in orphanages scattered across their war-torn land with no mother or father to comfort them.

To get to the terrifying fallout of the 26-year conflict between the Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers took a 13-hour, 400-mile drive from the west coast capital Colombo along dangerous roads and through more than a dozen heavily militarised checkpoints and cordons-once having to hide in the back of our minivan.

At every stage of our journey the Sri Lankan military that has effectively created a border cutting off the north of the island from foreigners-brandished their weapons to try to intimidate us and stop us seeing what they don''t want you to see.

For here, in the north-east of the South Asian island, is a scene light years away from the pristine tea plantations and golden sandy beaches in the south and west of the island that attract more than 100,000 British tourists a year.

To British honeymooners, Sri Lanka is a tropical paradise; to British businessmen it is source of clothing for high street stores like M and S, Next and Gap. But for the past three decades the former British colony has been gripped by a deadly war that has bitterly split the South Asian nation in two and killed 100,000 people.

It erupted in 1983 after the demands of the minority Tamils for a homeland of their own separate from the Sinhalese were refused. Last week it finally came to a violent and bloody end in the north of the country. And since January, an estimated 7,000 civilians, many of them children, have died in the crossfire at the hands of both sides.

But now the end of the conflict has brought new and terrible suffering for the Tamil people left behind. (ANI)[Image: sri-lanka-india.jpg]
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