Sri Lanka: UN delivers aid to over 2,000 families hosting internally displaced

Sri Lanka: UN delivers aid to over 2,000 families hosting internally displaced

In Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna Peninsula, the United Nations refugee agency has supplied aid to more than 2,000 families hosting thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) who have escaped renewed fighting between the Government forces and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.

“On most occasions, there are multiple IDP families living with a single host family,” said Vito Trani, head of the Jaffna office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “Without additional support – like relief items, shelter, water and sanitation facilities – that pressure could lead to other humanitarian concerns.”

UNHCR created the programme last August upon realizing that families welcoming IDPs into their homes needed help, but was forced to suspend deliveries in mid-December after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked a merchant vessel carrying supplies. A shortage of stocks also hindered UNCHR from distributing relief supplies.

Distributions resumed in January, and nearly 2,100 host families have received non-food relief items from UNHCR to date. Deliveries, which take place every Thursday with the help of local authorities, are scheduled for the coming weeks.

“These people have opened their hearts and welcomed complete strangers into their homes,” Mr. Trani said. “It is only fair that they are supported in some way.”

This project is part of a larger inter-agency operation spanning the entire peninsula, home to more than 500,000 civilians, which has seen decades of conflict.