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Senior UN official to visit Sri Lanka

world Updated: May 15, 2009 11:39 IST

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has decided to send Vijay Nambiar, the UN chief of staff, to Sri Lanka to request the government to bring an end to the conflict with the Tamil Tigers and help ease the worsening humanitarian crisis in the island's north, a UN spokesperson said in New York.

The UN deputy spokeswoman, Marie Okabe, told a news briefing on Thursday that Nambiar is to leave for Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

The secretary-general spoke to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday to reiterate his concerns over the estimated 50,000 civilians trapped in a tiny coastal area, she said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been fighting for a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka for the past 25 years. The Sri Lankan military says that it is on the verge of crushing the rebels.