A Newspaper Published by World Institute for Asian Studies. Powered by WIAS, Vol. 9 No. 001

A critical report by UNHCR on the deepening emergency in Sri Lanka

Colombo, 29 April, ( The UNHCR, the UN refugees’ agency has airlifted 3000 family size tents yesterday from its stockpiles in Dubai and also 103 metric tons of aid. UNHCR says so far it has airlifted 5000 family tents and a large consignment of relief items.

A statement released by the UNHCR was highly critical and said, "As tens of thousands of civilians continue to make their way out of the conflict zone, UNHCR is responding to the deepening emergency unfolding in Sri Lanka’s north. So far, we have confirmed that some 160,000 people have been displaced by fighting into the government controlled areas, of which, more than 140,000 are being accommodated in 32 sites in Vavuniya, another 11,000 in Jaffna and some 5,000 in Trincomalee."

The statement further reveals that according to the reports of the UNHCR staffs on the ground, "the present situation in the north is critical. The conditions at the sites have reached breaking point, placing severe strains on the humanitarian services available. People without shelter are staying out in the open in the blazing sun and sweltering heat."

The statement also revealed that UNHCR was receiving persistent reports of physical assaults on men and women fleeing into government controlled areas. Accordingly the UN refugees’ organization pointed out that they were reminding the government of its responsibilities towards the civilian population and to ensure the protection of its own citizens. Also UNHCR has urged that all necessary steps be taken to investigate these incidents and to bring those responsible to justice.

"We are also calling on the government to make immediate arrangements to separate ex-combatants from the civilian population and keep them in separate facilities where they can undergo rehabilitation in line with international standards," the statement said.

The statement released by the UNHCR said, High Commissioner António Guterres authorised the expenditure of an additional US$ 2 million for Sri Lankan operations. The additional funds will provide shelter, protection and other aid for civilians fleeing the conflict zone in the north. We are revising our current appeal for Sri Lanka, and increasing our budget for Sri Lankan internally displaced people to $16.6 million. Given the urgency of the situation, we hope that donors will give generously to UNHCR in order for us to continue assisting the thousands of people forced to flee their homes in Sri Lanka.

- Asian Tribune -

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Fran Diaz
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