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Sri Lanka's displaced now numbers over 192,000, UN reports

6 May 2009 – The United Nations humanitarian wing said today that over 192,000 people have fled the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka, where clashes continue between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Although the number of registered internally displaced persons (IDPs) has increased, it is not due to new arrivals, and there are still no reports of more people in transit for days, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted.

OCHA estimates that around 50,000 people remain trapped in the conflict zone, a shrinking pocket of land on the north-east coastline, and that they are in dire need of food aid and medical supplies.

Yesterday the UN and the Government of Sri Lanka announced they are seeking $50 million to address the urgent needs of up to 250,000 displaced persons over the next three months in the areas of food, water, sanitation, shelter, nutrition, health and protection, as well as educational requirements for thousands of children who have been without schooling for months.

OCHA said that, as a result of increased humanitarian needs due to the large-scale influx of IDPs from the conflict area and the continuing high level of needs of those still trapped in the area of fighting, the Country Team in Sri Lanka has re-prioritized its funding requirements.

It spells out the kind of funding urgently required to help IDPs currently accommodated in the country’s northern districts of Vavuniya, Jaffna, Mannar and Trincomalee, and reiterates the need for continued assistance for those still in the conflict zone.

Tonight, a 30 metric ton food consignment is expected to be loaded aboard the International Red Cross boat that will sail to the conflict zone and deliver food to the civilian population still trapped there, OCHA reported. The consignment includes 5 metric tons of food for supplementary feeding and 25 metric tons of World Food Programme (WFP) food rations.

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