With more than 200,000 Sri Lankans fleeing their homes in recent months to escape escalating violence between the Government and Tamil separatists, the United Nations humanitarian office today presented an inter-agency appeal calling for $37.5 million to provide food, water, protection and other urgent assistance.
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) country team in Sri Lanka launched the action plan, which covers the period from September to December, in response to “serious humanitarian consequences have arisen from the spiralling conflict” in the north and east, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a press release.
It also highlighted the “unprecedented” killing of 17 Sri Lankan employees of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Action Contre la Faim earlier this month, saying the murders dealt a “sharp blow to the security of humanitarian operations.”
“There is an urgent need for restoring and safeguarding of humanitarian operational space to ensure effective access to allow the delivery of services and the monitoring of assistance programmes,” said Rashid Khalikov, Acting Director of OCHA in Geneva, while presenting the humanitarian action plan to Members States.
Recurrent conflict has resulted in the breakdown of family structures and social safety nets in Sri Lanka. By the end of this month, the number of people displaced in the north and east will have risen to over 217,450, with an additional 9,200 people having sought refuge in India, OCHA said, warning that these figures may continue to increase.
The inter-agency humanitarian plan identifies priority actions to be taken to provide protection, shelter, food, water and environmental sanitation, health care, education and livelihood support for affected populations, including those displaced.
Fighting between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has intensified since April despite a ceasefire agreed in 2002 aimed at ending a conflict that has lasted for more than 20 years and claimed some 60,000 lives.