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* Vast improvements in Sri Lanka IDP centers
Thursday, April 2, 2009, 16:15 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

UNHCR yesterday welcomed the positive developments at the IDP sites as they are now in line with the international standards.

Apr 02, Colombo: Sri Lankan government has taken several measures to vastly improve the conditions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) centers where civilians fleeing from the LTTE rebel control are housed currently.

Addressing a media briefing held at the Presidential Secretariat today Mahinda Samarasinghe, the Minister of Human Rights and Disaster Management said the objective of the government is to provide maximum relief to ensure the well-being of the IDPs without compromising security of the people.

According to the Minister a visitor centre has been set up in each IDP centre to facilitate contacts among IDPs and their friends and relatives within the centers. Another positive development was the establishment of telephone facilitates for IDPs. This has enabled them to maintain personal contacts with their friends and relations, the Minister said.

Pointing out that unification of family members separated while escaping from uncleared area is a significant achievement, the Minister said 1,108 IDPs who were living in 13 camps, and two villages were unified, through proper coordination. This is a positive development and a great step forward, he added.

Meanwhile 377 elderly persons in centers in Vavuniya have been sent to friends or relatives and about another 100 have been sent to elders' homes.

According to government statistics, 62,106 IDPs have reached the cleared area from the rebel-controlled area so far. Out of that 2,860 have arrived within the last four days.

The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) has evacuated 6,597, out of which 3,257 are patients and the others are of normal health. Foreign Secretary, Dr. Palitha Kohona said The United Nations' Refugee Agency, UNCHR in an independent survey has affirmed that the conditions in the IDP camps have become much better with the unification of separated family members, supply of essential items and establishment of telephone facilities.

UNHCR yesterday welcomed the positive developments at the IDP sites as they are now in line with the international standards. The agency also commended Sri Lanka for drawing up a plan to facilitate visits by relatives of the IDPs to the sites, once the registration process is complete.

UNHCR further urged the government to separate the 300 ex-combatants from the civilian population at these sites, and accommodate them in a separate facility where they can undergo rehabilitation.

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