Sri Lanka Humanitarian Situation = UN =

United Nations, New York, 27 April 2009 – Daily Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General. Over in Sri-Lanka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes arrived in Colombo over the weekend for a two-day visit, to seek increased humanitarian access.
On Sunday, he met with the UN Country Team, NGOs and donors in Colombo. In these meetings, the Humanitarian Chief discussed urgent humanitarian concerns including the situation inside the conflict zone, problems with the delivery of food and medical supplies into the conflict zone, conditions of Internally Displaced Persons accommodated in the IDP camps, and continuing protection concerns on the displaced at the screening points in transit.
The UN Country Team raised concerns on the delay in the shipment of more than 1,000 metric tons of food; the urgent need to access screening points at Omanthai and Kilinochchi; and overcrowding of the IDP sites, among other issues.
In meetings with Government officials, Holmes stressed the need for a humanitarian pause to conduct an assessment of the conflict zone and to bring in emergency supplies including food and medical supplies.
He also underscored the urgent need for access by the United Nations Country Team to the conflict zone in the northeast, and to the screening centers through which tens of thousands of displaced persons are passing on their way to the camps. Holmes also raised the issue of need for access to IDPs in transit who receive limited assistance, and addressed the issue of congestion in camps in Vavuniya and the need for more people to be accommodated with host families, as well as the need for the release of UN staff.
Today Holmes traveled to Vavuniya and Omanthai screening point. He visited a camp for IDPs in Manik Farm, Zone 2, where he was able to speak to the displaced, who number in total some 38,000-40,000.
At present over 151,000 displaced are in camps and in hospitals. The UN estimates that there are still at least 50,000 still in the conflict zone, which is now less than 10 square kilometers.
Meanwhile, a United Nations refugee agencys emergency airlift carrying humanitarian aid for tens of thousands of people displaced by fighting in north-eastern Sri Lanka began Monday morning with the arrival in Colombo of a plane carrying 2,850 family-size tents from the refugee agency’s stockpiles in Dubai.
The Boeing 747 cargo plane, the first of two scheduled flights to deliver more than 200 tonnes of UNHCR tents landed in Colombo at 10:45 a.m. local time.
High Commissioner Ant√≥nio Guterres also approved the immediate release of an extra US$2 million for UNHCR’s Sri Lanka operations helping internally displaced people. The additional funds will provide shelter, protection and other aid for civilians fleeing the conflict zone in the north.
In addition, UNICEF says 50 metric tons of airlifted emergency relief supplies landed today in Colombo.


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