UN to pull out staff from northern Sri Lanka

September 10th, 2008 - 12:08 am ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Sep 9 (Xinhua) The UN would withdraw its humanitarian staff from Sri Lanka’s northern Vanni district where government troops and the rebels are engaged in fierce fighting, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator office in the country said Tuesday. “A precise timetable for the complete withdrawal of all staff is yet to be determined, but relocations will begin this week,” the office said in a statement.

The statement came after the Sri Lankan government’s announcement that it can no longer ensure the safety of aid workers in the Vanni and UN and NGO staff should relocate to government-controlled territory.

“The UN notes that the government recognizes it holds primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of humanitarian workers,” the statement added.

The statement said that the UN remained fully committed to addressing the humanitarian needs of the civilian population in the affected areas, and would continuously monitor the situation to assess how this can be done under the circumstances.

Tamil Tiger rebels launched a sudden coordinated attack on military targets in the northern town of Vavuniya Tuesday morning, killing 11 government troops and injuring 31. All the 10 Tamil Tigers participating in the attack were killed in the battle that lasted about three hours.

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