The United Nations (UN) is facing a shortage of millions of dollars needed to carry out humanitarian work among the displaced in Sri Lanka.
A shortfall in funding has not only impacted the thousands of displaced remaining in camps for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) but is also likely to affect the economic recovery of those released, Neil Buhne, the UN’s resident coordinator, said on Thursday.
"Although generous donations of about $ 125 million have made these response operations possible, $ 165 million more is needed to cover gaps for activities planned by the UN and humanitarian organisations during the remainder of 2010 in support of the national programmes,’’ Buhne said.
He added that funding shortages have reduced the capacity to deliver immediate assistance to the residual camp population and returning communities.
Around 35000 IDPs still remain in camps while about 200000 have returned to their villages in the north. Nearly 300000 Tamils were displaced during the end of the civil conflict in 2009.
“The job is not yet done. It is still a critical period and we ask for your continued support to meet the remaining crucial needs” Buhne said, adding: ``the welfare of the returned people, is an important element in reconciliation and ultimately, sustainable peace and development.’’
Buhne said progress has been made in providing succour to the displaced. "Combined efforts have ensured that over 300,000 people have had access to safe water and sanitation facilities. Common services such as health, nutrition and education have also made significant improvements in effort to normalise life in return areas and for those in camps,’’ his statement said.
Buhne said: ``difficult, hard, and urgent work was done. Lives were saved and people helped to get back their strength to rebuild lives”, he added “funding for this work came from the Government, people throughout Sri Lanka and from donor governments. However, as all of us know, there is much more to be done - recently returned people are still vulnerable”.