UN pleas for access to war-stranded Sri Lankans | world | Hindustan Times
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UN pleas for access to war-stranded Sri Lankans

world Updated: May 20, 2009 21:27 IST

The United Nations pleaded today for access to Sri Lankans believed stranded in the northeast of the country where the government says it has defeated a three-decade insurgency by the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The request came a day after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked Sri Lanka's health minister for unfettered access to
civilians in camps and near the battlefield, said UN spokeswoman Elena Ponomareva.

UN agencies said today the situation on the ground had yet to change.

"The UN has no information about ill or injured civilians who may remain in the conflict zone," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for UN's humanitarian operations.

She said the UN or the international Red Cross needed to evacuate those who remained.

The Red Cross has appealed to be allowed inside the war zone to help anyone there but the government said it did not need help, according to Paul Castella, the head of the Sri Lanka office of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

As the military encircled the rebels and pushed ahead with the final battle last week, government doctors reported about 1,000 wounded civilians were trapped in a makeshift hospital and the surrounding area with little food and no medical care.