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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2674

UN Chief Of Staff Receives Briefing On Sri Lankan Situation

United Nations, 18 April ( UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, who is on a humanitarian mission in Sri Lanka, met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and received a briefing on the political and military situation in the north.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq told Asian Tribune that Nambiar also met with Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama.

"Nothing further to report, although we can say there are some signs of movement on the issue of getting civilians to leave the zone of conflict," he added.

At a press briefing Thursday, Haq said the Secretary-General is doing his utmost to alleviate the situation and, in that regard, "there’s a number of high-level contacts that we’re pursuing."

"One of the points we want to stress in this regard is that we continue to be concerned that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) did not appear to have responded constructively to the request to allow civilians to leave. And we found this to be truly disappointing. Our position remains that civilians must be allowed to leave the area of violence, and they must not be used as targets of political or military designs," he added.

Question: Is there some consideration by the UN of trying to either extract or allow escape by sea -- by boats?

Haq : I don’t have anything further to say on that.

In a statement he read out, Haq also said: Following the end of the temporary ceasefire in northern Sri Lanka, fighting in the vicinity of the no-fire zone is reportedly intense, and small arms fire, mortar fire and aerial attacks have resumed.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 64,000 people have crossed from conflict areas. Some 63,000 of them are accommodated in various camps, while 800 displaced persons are in hospitals in various districts.

The International Red Cross was able to evacuate 988 people from the no-fire zone during the ceasefire period. A ship with approximately 1,030 tons of humanitarian supplies is being loaded for departure to the no-fire zone and is expected to leave in 3 days.

In the camps in the Vanni region, shelter construction, site clearing, educational support, health care, water supply and sanitation assistance are continuing. But water and sanitation services remain inadequate.

OCHA says that the continued use of schools and other education establishments as sites for internally displaced persons continues to put a strain on the education services in the district, which is affecting both displaced students and host students.

- Asian Tribune -

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