UN chief asks access for relief agencies into Sri Lanka refugee camps
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to allow greater international relief access to internal displaced person (IDP) camps in northern Sri Lanka, diplomatic and government sources said Saturday, according to Xinhua.
The presidential office said in a statement that Ban, in his meeting with the president in the central town of Kandy Saturday afternoon, expressed his appreciation over the conditions of the relief village at Chettikulam, which he visited in the morning, but noted "there was room for improvement."
"He understood the immense pressures brought on the government as a result of the sudden arrival of such large number of people seeking relief, who had been held hostage for a long period," said the statement.
While Ban requested greater international access to the IDP camps, Rajapakse said that as security conditions improved, there would be no objections to such access from organizations that were genuinely interested in the well-being of the IDPs and the needs of rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Some 269,000 internally displaced civilians are being accommodated in Vavuniya and Jaffna.
The secretary general underlined the UN focus on the humanitarian relief effort and explored ways for UN and international relief agencies to work in co-operation with the Sri Lankan government on the IDP issue.
Sri Lanka's over-30-year civil war came to a conclusion early this week with the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels.