Ban Ki-moon in Sri Lanka on May 22 and 23, 2009

United Nations, New York, 19 May 2009 – Daily Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General. At a press conference in Geneva, the Secretary-General announced today that he would be visiting Sri Lanka later this week. The visit on May 22 and 23rd would be to respond to the urgent need to heal the wounds of a war that has alienated the communities in the Island for almost three decades, he said. He said he would travel to hardest hit areas for a first-hand assessment of conditions on the ground. Saying that the task now facing the people of Sri Lanka is immense and requires all hands, the Secretary-General spelled out his message. He said progress must come in three critical areas. First, immediate humanitarian relief; Second, reintegration and reconstruction; Third, a sustainable and equitable political solution. He said: Progress on all three of these fronts must move forward in parallel—and it must begin now.

Meanwhile, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman issued a statement today saying that full and unimpeded humanitarian access must be ensured so that children and women can receive the assistance they so desperately need.

The Human Rights Council just announced a few minutes ago it will hold a special session on Monday, 25 May to address the human rights situation in Sri Lanka following a request submitted today by Council members to convene the meeting.

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