UN Secretary Ban: Sri Lankan Refugee Camps Appalling

May 24, 2009

(ChattahBox)—United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon arrived in the war torn country of Sri Lanka on Friday, offering the country’s President, Mahinda Rajapaksa much needed humanitarian assistance to the shell-shocked and suffering thousands of displaced persons, uprooted from 25 years of civil war with the Tamil Tiger rebels.

With the Sri Lankan military declaring victory over the Tamil Tigers, now begins the arduous task of rebuilding the small island nation ravaged by a bloody war, with 250,000 to 300,000 war refugees housed in camps with “appalling” conditions, said UN Secretary Ban.

After meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Ban was assured that humanitarian workers would have full access to the displacement camps, including the United Nations humanitarian agencies and International Committee of the Red Cross, to provide food and medical treatment.

Ban and President Rajapaska issued a joint statement on Saturday, where the President promised to provide humanitarian workers access to the refugee camps, however the access has been limited, causing Ban to become concerned for the welfare of the thousands of displaced persons residing in appalling and unsanitary tent cities.

The Sri Lankan government believes that Tiger rebels may be hiding in the camps and plans to conduct a person-by-person screening, before full humanitarian aide would be permitted. Ban again demanded that humanitarian workers be given unimpeded access and freedom of movement within the camp, but he has not received a response from the Sri Lankan government.

Ban fears time may be running out for the thousands of displaced persons, without food, water or medicine. Ban toured Manik Farm, a northern camp for displaced people, where he witnessed the most ” appalling scenes,” he has seen in refugee camps anywhere in the world.

Ban is also calling on the government to close down the camps and assist the displaced persons with resettlement and a return to normal lives.

The Sri Lankan military contends that civilian causalities were low during the recent violence from civil strife within the country. Secretary Ban believes there were many civilian casualties. One only has to look at the abandoned dead along the sides of the country’s roads, to know there were many civilians caught in the crossfire of the bloody violence.



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