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UN official voices concern for trapped civilians in Lanka

A top UN humanitarian official has voiced concern for the thousands of civilians pushed into a shrinking pocket of land in the north Sri Lanka due to ongoing clashes between government forces and the LTTE.

world Updated: Feb 28, 2009 13:42 IST

A top UN humanitarian official has voiced concern for the thousands of civilians pushed into a shrinking pocket of land in the north Sri Lanka due to ongoing clashes between government forces and the LTTE.

The world body estimates that some 200,000 people are being squeezed into a narrow 14 square kilometre patch of land on the coast in Wanni which the Sri Lankan government has declared a "no-fire zone."

Many of these people have been uprooted several times in recent months or years, and are in danger of getting caught in the crossfire between the two sides, Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes told the Security Council in a closed door meeting on Friday.

"And there is strong evidence that the LTTE are preventing them from leaving," he said.

The violence has impeded humanitarian aid delivery, with supplies of food, medical supplies, clean water and other essential supplies in critically short supply, Holmes, who visited Sri Lanka last week, said.

"The risks from hunger and diseases are growing rapidly, in addition to those from fighting," noted Holmes, who also serves as UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

He told the 15 member Council of his visits to camps for internally displaced persons, adding that the movement into and out of these sites is "currently highly and unacceptably restricted."

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