Sri Lanka


Since 1983, Sri Lanka has been wracked by civil war, leaving over 80,000 dead and displacing possibly a million civilians. Between January and June of 2009 there were more than 7,000 civilians killed and 13,000 injured. The Sri Lankan government is not permitting journalists or NGOs into the region, except for the Red Cross, prompting the nickname "war without witness". Without much evidence, it is hard to determine if both sides have been violating the laws of war.

Humanitarian Crisis

Before the conflict ended, an estimated 50,000 civilians were trapped in the area, which was the last stronghold of the opposition Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). After the end of the conflict, civilians detained by the government in overcrowded internment camps have been unable to leave. An images was obtained of Menik Farm, a de-facto internment camp run by the military, which offers a rare glimpse of the massive displacement caused by the conflict.


Amnesty International
  • During the conflict in Sri Lanka, government restrictions and propaganda from both sides led to a lack of access and information, exacerbated by conflicting reports over civilian casualty figures. Using geospatial technologies like satellite images and virtual globes allowed us to offer our activists a glimpse of the war zone. Additionally, AIUSA acquired a satellite image of Menik Farm, which is run by the military. The image offers a rare glimpse of the massive displacement caused by the conflict. The sheer size of Menik Farm, as captured from space, is a testament to the scale and scope of the crisis.
  • The Google Earth Layer demonstrated the abandonment of thousands of likely IDP shelters from the central part of the so-called "Safe Zone" between May 6 and May 10. Additionally, we obtained aerial photographs of the war zone and a satellite image of the biggest displacement camp used by the government to detain civilians.


Satellite Images

The image below indicates areas of significant IDP displacement (red), and additions (yellow), on the May 10 image when compared with the May 6 image.
Areas of significant IDP displacement
© 2009 DigitalGlobe. All rights reserved. Produced by AAAS.
The image below shows the de-facto internment camp, Menik Farm. Click and drag the magnifying lens to zoom into the image.

© 2009 DigitalGlobe. All rights reserved. Produced by AAAS.