UN chief urge humanitarian access to displaced refugees in Sri Lanka

May 23rd, 2009 - 5:59 pm ICT by ANI  

Colombo, May 23 (ANI): UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived here to press Sri Lanka Government for unrestricted access to the estimated 250,000 refugees displaced by the army’s conflict with the Tamil Tigers, which came to a bitter end this week.

He said over 250,000 people who had fled the fighting between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the Government forces were in need of food, water and sanitation.Ban who arrived here on Friday evening said, “It’s time for Sri Lankan to heal the wounds and unite without regard for religious and ethnic identity.”

He further said that the goal of his visit was to ensure humanitarian assistance to the more than 300,000 displaced.The other goal of his visit was “national reconciliation” he said, adding: “I hope President Rajapakse will reach out in a inclusive dialogue with minority groups, including Tamils and Muslims.”

Ban is the first major international figure to visit Sri Lanka since President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared victory over the LTTE earlier this week, after its troops took the last segment of land held by the rebels and had killed the Tamil Tiger leadership, including its chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Earlier this year when the Sri Lankan authorities revealed plans for “welfare villages” that would hold the refugees for three years, there was an immediate outcry from aid groups.

The government backtracked and vowed that 80 per cent would be resettled within 12 months. The new revelation will trigger fresh concern.

The government has begun screening the tens of thousands of Tamils that have poured from the war zone. Dozens have identified themselves as LTTE fighters and have been taken to rehabilitation camps. It is understood “hard core” suspects, accused of the most serious crimes, are being held in a detention camp near Boosse. (ANI)

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