Sri Lankans fleeing conflict 'severely undernourished': UN | world | Hindustan Times
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Sri Lankans fleeing conflict 'severely undernourished': UN

world Updated: May 12, 2009 23:03 IST

Thousands of civilians fleeing fighting in northern Sri Lanka were severely undernourished when they reached camps outside the combat zone, the United Nations said today.

"The humanitarian situation for those trapped in the conflict zone obviously is desperate," said Emilia Casella, spokeswoman for the World Food Programme.

Many internally displaced people (IDP) said they had not had a proper meal in days, she added.

"What we are seeing among the new IDPs is, children under five, pregnant women and elderly who are severely undernourished," she added.

UN relief agencies estimated that since October 27, about 200,000 people have fled the conflict zone where fierce fighting is ongoing between government forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Some 193,300 of these displaced are currently staying in overcrowded temporary camps, said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

She also warned that at least 50,000 people are still trapped in the conflict zone, where fighting was "intense."

The UN is also concerned about a looming shortage of funds for its humanitarian operation in SriLanka.

"Without additional resources we are facing a pipeline break in July.