Efforts heightened to help displaced Sri Lankans: UN

May 30th, 2009 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

United Nations, May 30 (Xinhua) The United Nations, along with dozens of partner agencies, are working to improve basic conditions in camps housing people who fled the recently-ended conflict in northern Sri Lanka, the UN humanitarian agency has said.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Friday that since the arrival of the last of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the camps, relief workers had been working to ease pressure on overcrowded sites, construct more latrines and improve water supply to meet international standards.

Other priorities include reuniting families and improving freedom of movement in the camps, the OCHA said.

Last week, the Sri Lankan government declared that its military operation against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was over, ending more than two decades of fighting.

The United Nations will focus its efforts on supporting the Sri Lankan government in providing aid to the 290,000 IDPs who escaped fighting in the Vanni region, and help them return to their homes as soon as possible, the OCHA said.

More than 20,000 tents and emergency shelters have been distributed in recent weeks, but 15,000 more are required to provide adequate living space for the uprooted, it added.

The OCHA identified water and sanitation as an ongoing challenge, with only half of the latrines necessary having been constructed to date and only 75 percent of water needed for drinking and bathing needs available.

Another key concern is nutrition, given the large numbers of under- and malnourished children, as well as the high adult vulnerability rate, but only 10 of the 30 nutrition rehabilitation centres have so far been constructed.

To meet child protection needs, 63 child-friendly spaces have been established for more than 20,000 children. Special teams have been formed to support former child soldiers, many of whom were forcibly recruited, the agency said.

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