28 April 2006

UN Calls for Protection of Civilians in Sri Lanka

NEW YORK, 27 April (OCHA) -- In light of recent violence, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation of civilians in the north and east of Sri Lanka, following weeks of escalating tension and violence.

"Civilians continue to suffer and I fear that, if the situation is not controlled, communal violence will again occur and aggravate further the tensions between the communities," said United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland.

The insecurity in Sri Lanka has claimed over 100 lives in recent weeks, with increasing civilian casualties. Several thousands have also fled their homes as a result of the recent violence, adding to over 300,000 long-term internally displaced people from the conflict in Sri Lanka.

"The loss of life, the new displacement of families, the destruction to businesses and property, as well as threats to humanitarian workers, are creating a climate of fear and tension for civilians," said Mr. Egeland. "It is imperative that the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance and tsunami operations in these vulnerable areas continue unabated."

"I appeal to both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to ensure full protection of civilians. I also appeal to them to enable humanitarian relief to be provided to the affected population," added the Emergency Relief Coordinator.

For further information, please call: Orla Clinton, OCHA-Sri Lanka, +947 7320 7505; Valentin Gatzinski, OCHA-Sri Lanka, +947 7317 1511; Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570.

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