2nd Lead (Adds details)

Colombo blocks Kofi Annan from touring LTTE held areas - UN officials

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 January 2005, 10:46 GMT]
Sri Lanka's government has stopped visiting U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan from touring tsunami-ravaged areas controlled by the LTTE, despite his requests, a Reuters report filed from Hambantota said. Annan was quoted as saying: "I am here on a humanitarian mission. I would like to visit all the areas, but as you know I am here as a guest of the government and they set the itinerary". UN officials told Reuters that they had been striving to convince the government, but to no avail. "It is a relief visit, not a political one. The secretary general wanted to go, but it just didn't happen," said one official on condition of anonymity to Reuters.

UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi AnnanSecretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan Saturday toured to the tsunami-wrecked districts of Hambabantota and Galle in the South and Trincomalee in the East to witness by himself the unprecedented natural disaster in Sri Lanka on December 26. The Secretary General flew by helicopter over the Southern town of Galle town, which was completely devastated in tsunami before landing at another wave-hit Southern town of Hambantota, where he was received by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and World Bank chief, Wolfensohn.

Hundreds of people have gathered alongside the streets to greet him. According to reports he has assured to give maximum possible assistance to rebuild the devastated towns and houses.

Then he flew to the Eastern port city of Trincomalee district where visited the refugee camps before meeting the Government Agent and key members of the UN agencies working there to assess the current situation there.

Before coming to Colombo the Secretary General has said at a meeting of world leaders in Jakarta on Thursday that the donor community must grant not less than US$977 million of immediate cash relief to help those affected by the tsunamis in 12 nations in the South-East Asia, such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Somalia, Burma, Maldives, Malaysia, Tanzania, Seychelles, Bangladesh and Kenya.

The UN chief is scheduled to meet President Chandrika Kumaratunga this evening where the leaders would discuss the pros and cons of the tsunami disaster, while concentrating on how to rebuild the ravaged nation.

 

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