Extraordinary efforts were needed to protect the displaced children caught between the rapidly advancing Sri Lankan army (SLA) and the cornered Tamil Tiger rebels, a top UN official has said.
Not only death, the displaced children were being stalked by disease and malnutrition, the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) executive director, Ann M Veneman, said in a statement.
The number of children killed or displaced by the current and intense phase of the war is not clear. The government says the number of civilians who have moved out of LTTE-controlled area is now over 45,000.
“In addition to the hundreds (of children) killed, thousands are now vulnerable to disease and malnutrition because of a critical lack of food, water and medicines in the conflict area,’’ Veneman said.
She said: “regular, safe access for humanitarian agencies is urgently required, so that lifesaving supplies can be provided, and civilians must be allowed to move to safe areas where essential humanitarian support is more readily available.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka said on Wednesday it would open up its war-torn north to international scrutiny. Quoting a foreign ministry official, news agency AFP reported that talks were underway to give a European Union fact-finding mission access to the area.