UN concerned at ongoing military operations in Sri Lanka conflict zone

4 May 2009

The United Nations remains concerned that military operations have continued over the past week in the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka, where an estimated 50,000 people are trapped by fighting between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a spokesperson for the world body said.

The United Nations remains concerned that military operations have continued over the past week in the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka, where an estimated 50,000 people are trapped by fighting between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a spokesperson for the world body said.

“According to reports from those remaining inside the conflict zone, fighting has intensified with both light and heavy weapons being used,” UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York, citing information from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

According to OCHA, as of today, more than 188,000 people have crossed out of the conflict zone, with the vast majority accommodated in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Vavuniya. Over 186,000 are in camps, and some 1,700 wounded and their caregivers are in hospitals.

“There has been no report of displaced persons on their way to the camps since 27 April, although delays in confirming numbers mean that official counts lag behind realities on the ground,” Ms. Okabe said.

Meanwhile, UN agencies are working to meet the basic needs of the arriving IDPs. The World Food Programme (WFP) has been able to accelerate food distribution in Vavuniya, and the Government of Sri Lanka has agreed that cooked meals should be provided at Omanthai screening point.

In Jaffna, response in the camps has been stepped up in the area of health, including the treatment of chicken pox, the provision of toilets, hygiene kits, temporary teaching space and supplementary food. In addition, work to protect civilians and to facilitate family reunifications is ongoing, the UN reported.

 

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