The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today launched an appeal for more than $23 million to assist the return of some 200,000 Sri Lankans uprooted by the recent conflict between Government forces and separatist Tamil rebels in the north of the Indian Ocean nation.
The funding for the FAO emergency response plan aims to promote self-sufficiency and prevent further dependency on food aid for some 50,000 rural families returning to the northeast of Sri Lanka.
As of December nearly 130,000 people had returned since the Government defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May last year, ending a civil war that had lasted more than two decades.
With an estimated 80 per cent of the population in the Northern Province reliant on crop cultivation, livestock and fisheries as their primary source of income, returning families need assistance to boost local agricultural production, improve their food security and make a living, noted FAO, which anticipates an accelerated pace of arrivals.
“We want to assist the Government in reducing the poverty level among conflict affected populations by enhancing income-generating and employment opportunities,” said FAO’s Representative in Sri Lanka Patrick Evans.
As part of ongoing emergency relief efforts, FAO is already providing over 6,600 vulnerable families with rice and other crops such as cowpea, green gram, maize and groundnut, as well as crop training for the north-east’s 2009/2010 monsoon season.