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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2786

United Nations surveys Northern Sri Lanka

New York: 19 October, ( Data collection for a nutritional survey, supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF), started today in two Ministry of Health divisions in the district of Kilinochchi in northern Sri Lanka. This is additional to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) emergency food security assessment of internally displaced persons, host families and surrounding communities in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts (Vanni), which also started this month and which is the first needs assessment in those areas since the resumption of hostilities.

These developments come after recent serious concerns about lack of access to some areas in northern Sri Lanka.

"As the global Emergency Relief Coordinator, I have been shocked by the lack of access for relief agencies to civilian communities in many conflict areas," said Jan Egeland, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator. "The parties should be reminded that they are under international legal obligations to enable unimpeded access to civilians in need of assistance irrespective of where they are or the circumstances under which they live."

Over the last few days, government officials have cleared the movement of some 7,500 liters of diesel fuel for transportation by the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent (ICRC) to the Vanni from Vavuniya. They have also approved the transportation of medical supplies and UN relief items including sleeping mats, jerry cans, soap, emergency health kits, and bed sheets. The WFP has sent a second convoy of 14 trucks carrying 230 tons of wheat flour to Vavuniya and stocks are currently being dispatched to the Vanni. United Nations agencies continue to support the government in providing relief for some 204,000 people currently displaced in the north and east, who have fled their homes as a result of the escalating violence. In addition, almost 16,000 Sri Lankans have entered India as refugees.

"The United Nations and indeed the whole international community are watching the dramatic increase in violence in Sri Lanka with deep concern," Egeland said.

"All Sri Lankans benefited immensely from the cease-fire and the parties must now return to a cessation of hostilities and to resolving their differences at the negotiating table.

"All Sri Lankans should remember how we in the international community came to their relief after the tsunami. It will not be understood if the Tamil Tigers and the government now plunge their country into a man-made tsunami that can still be prevented.

"The United Nations stands ready to help Sri Lanka in any way that the government and the parties to the conflict deem necessary to prevent violence and promote reconciliation," Egeland added.

- Asian Tribune -

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