UN, partners step up efforts to help uprooted in Sri Lanka

29 May 2009

The United Nations, along with dozens of partner agencies, are working to improve basic conditions in camps housing people who fled the recently-ended conflict in northern Sri Lanka, it was announced today.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that since the arrival of the last of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the camps, relief workers have been working to ease pressure on overcrowded sites, construct more latrines and improve water supply to meet international standards. Other priorities include reuniting families and improving freedom of movement in the camps.

Last week, the Government declared that its military operation against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was over, ending more than two decades of fighting.

The UN will focus its efforts on supporting the Government in providing aid to the 290,000 IDPs who escaped fighting in the Vanni region and help them return to their homes as soon as possible, OCHA said.

More than 20,000 tents and emergency shelters have been distributed in recent weeks, but 15,000 more are required to provide adequate living space for the uprooted, it added.

OCHA identified water and sanitation as an ongoing challenge, with only half of the latrines necessary having been constructed to date and only 75 per cent of water needed for drinking and bathing needs available.

Another key concern is nutrition, given the large numbers of under- and malnourished children, as well as the high adult vulnerability rate, but only 10 of the 30 nutrition rehabilitation centres have so far been constructed.

To meet child protection needs, 63 child-friendly spaces to accommodate over 20,000 children have been established, and teams to support former child soldiers, many of whom were forcibly recruited, are also in place.


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Scale of Sri Lanka aid effort ‘huge,’ says UN humanitarian wing

The United Nations humanitarian wing said today that the overall scale of the relief operation in Sri Lanka, where nearly 300,000 people have been displaced by the recent conflict, remains “huge,” while an action plan for assistance still needs 60 per cent of the requested funding.