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* UNHCR welcomes positive developments at Sri Lanka's IDP sites
Wednesday, April 1, 2009, 5:47 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 01, Colombo: The United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said it welcomes the positive development in the internally displaced persons (IDP) sites in Sri Lanka's North as they are in line with the international standards.

In a statement the UNHCR called on Sri Lanka to separate the 300 ex-combatants from the civilian population at the sites, and accommodate them in a separate facility where they can undergo rehabilitation in line with international standards.

The UN Refugee Agency has urged the Sri Lanka Government to task the civil administration and the Sri Lanka Police to provide services and maintain law and order inside the sites, while the Sri Lanka Army maintains security at the periphery.

Making reference to the Guidance Note outlining principles on protection and assistance with regards to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the Vanni in the districts of Vavuniya, Jaffna and Mannar, the UNHCR said it welcomes recent initiatives by the Sri Lanka to start the release of persons with special needs (some 371 elderly persons have already been released) and begin reunifying separated families inside the IDP sites.

"The agency also notes that the Sri Lanka has drawn up a plan to facilitate visits by relatives of the IDPs to the sites, once the registration process is complete," it said.

It also called for greater freedom of movements for IDPs who have completed the screening and registration process and have been issued with the relevant identification card.

"Once the security situation is stabilized, IDPs should be released as soon as possible to host families, which is the preferred option for accommodation, once the screening process is complete," UNHCR statement added.

In terms of assistance, UNHCR continues to support the government of Sri Lanka with regular distribution of non-food items and protection monitoring along with efforts to resolve decongestion, among other issues, at the transit/IDP sites.

UNHCR is satisfied with aid distributions so far and will continue to provide assistance to the IDPs at the sites. As displacement continues, the Agency will also carry out regular gaps analysis to better respond to new arrivals in the three districts of Vavuniya, Jaffna and Mannar.

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