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* Over 66,000 civilians crossed from conflict areas in Northern Sri Lanka, says OCHA
Friday, April 3, 2009, 19:50 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 03, New York: The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that up to the end of March 58,378 persons crossed from conflict areas, and are accommodated in camps for internally displaced persons in Vavuniya.

Another 8,204 sick and injured people and those who accompanied them have gone to Trincomalee.

Farhan Haq, the Associate Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon gave these figures at the daily press briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York today.

According to the spokesman, site cleaning and ground leveling is ongoing in Vavuniya and various agencies have started the construction of communal halls, latrines, bathing spaces and kitchens. More than 3,700 emergency shelters have been constructed so far and are occupied by IDPs.

OCHA citing Agencies assisting the displaced persons reported that stocks of hospital kits are running low and that there are still significant gaps in providing clothing.

Asked about the Secretary-General's earlier call for a suspension of hostilities in Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson said that call stands, adding that the focus now is on protecting civilians, including those trying to leave the conflict zone.

The UN humanitarian agency says that it continues to receive reports of shelling, mortar fire, and aerial attacks in the 'no-fire zone'. However the agency didn't say where the fire is coming from.

Both Sri Lankan government and the LTTE rebels accuse each other of shelling the no-fire zone. However the Sri Lankan military have repeatedly assured that they do not fire heavy weapons due to the high density of civilians in the area and also due to the difficulty in firing heavy weapons in the remaining narrow strip of land.

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