Wednesday, April 22, 2009

UN refugee agency says more than 100,000 have fled Sri Lanka's war zone

Apr 21, Geneva: United Nation's refugee agency said today with the new arrivals of over 40,000 people, more than 100,000 have fled the Sri Lanka's war zone along the northeastern coast of Mullaitivu where they have been trapped for months.

Ron Redmond, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the newly escaped civilians are expected to reach the districts of Vavuniya and Jaffna within 48 hours and few thousand have already arrived in each district.

"As civilians are transported into the sites, UNHCR is still ascertaining the total number of new IDPs in the two districts," Mr. Redmond said in Geneva.

The UNHCR official said the UNHCR and shelter agencies are working with the government to identify more land, including in the district of Mannar, to alleviate overcrowding at the existing IDP sites as more civilians arrive.

UNHCR said that the agency together with the government and partners is providing emergency shelter support and non-food aid to the new arrivals while carrying out protection monitoring at the sites and stockpiling relief items in preparation for additional displacement.

Voicing greave concern over the civilians still trapped inside the conflict zone, the UNHCR official called on the LTTE to immediately allow people to move to areas where they feel safe.

"We also urge both parties to the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law and ensure that the safety of the innocent civilian population is the top priority," he said.

>> Full Story