UNHCR deputy head to visit Sri Lanka next week

[TamilNet, Friday, 14 January 2005, 12:34 GMT]
Deputy head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mr. Kamel Morjane, will be visiting Sri Lanka next week from Tuesday to review UNHCR's work on the ground behalf of people displaced by the tsunami and the conflict.

A statement issued by the UNHCR office in Colombo said Friday that Mr. Morjane during his three-day official is scheduled to visit tsunami affected areas of the South as well as the North-East, in addition to his meeting with government authorities in Colombo.

He will be joined by the new Director of UNHCR's Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Ms. Janet Lim, and the Director of the Department of International Protection, Ms. Erika Feller.

According to the statement, some 130,000 tsunami-displaced people have so far been supplied with UNHCR shelter and non-food relief items, such as plastic sheeting, mats, clothing mosquito nets and kitchen sets.

Three airlifts from Copenhagen and Delhi have already brought in additional supplies for the displaced people while the fourth airlift of plastic sheeting from China is scheduled next week.

"This weekend, UNHCR will airlift portable warehouses from Colombo to its offices in Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara. With a capacity of 1,000 cubic metres each, these warehouses will enable us to store more relief supplies from UNHCR and other UN agencies," the statement said.

The government statistics said that there are still 425,620 people displaced by the tsunami, and the number of temporary accommodation centres had dropped to 444 with more people leaving the temporary accommodation centres either for home or to live with friends or relatives.

"But given that more than 130,000 houses have been destroyed by the tidal waves, there will be people who cannot go home in the near future. UNHCR is working with the government and international agencies on the planning of semi-permanent shelters, ensuring that they respect the basic rights of the displaced people to security, privacy, as well as sanitation and health facilities," the UNHCR statement said, adding that the special needs of women and children must also be taken into consideration.

The UNHCR said that it was also in the process of advising the local authorities on the need to ensure the land rights of people who could be affected by a draft law to create a 300-metre buffer zone from the sea.

 

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