UK Gives $1 Million to Help Victims of Conflict in Sri Lanka

Today, Gareth Thomas, Minister at the Department for International Development announced the UK will make a new $1 million contribution to the UN and Red Cross to help Sri Lankans displaced by recent violence in their country.

Mr Thomas said:

“I am glad to be able to announce these additional UK funds for all those recently displaced within Sri Lanka as a result of the upsurge in violence. UK funds will help to meet the immediate needs of almost 250,000 people who have fled their homes because of security concerns. It is imperative that the hostilities should stop soon so that those displaced can return to their homes without fear of violence or intimidation.

“In the meantime it is vital that the government and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) allow safe humanitarian access to all parts of the country, so that much needed assistance can reach the displaced wherever they are. And it is crucial that basic human rights are upheld by all.

“The people of Sri Lanka want and deserve peace after more than 20 years of conflict. This can only happen if the cease-fire agreement is fully complied with, the fighting stops and meaningful negotiations are resumed. The UK stands ready to do what we can to support this, but lasting change can only come from within Sri Lanka.”

UK funds will be split evenly between the UN and the Red Cross and help meet emergency humanitarian needs until the end of the year. The funds will help the UN and Red Cross ensure that:

· People in the north-east of Sri Lanka have access to safe drinking water and sanitation to reduce the risk of infectious diseases such as cholera;

· People receive quick and effective medical treatment to prevent unnecessary loss of life;

· Children living in temporary settlements continue to receive a basic level of education; and

· The government and LTTE recognise the need to uphold the civil rights of those arrested during the conflict, inform families about missing relatives and prevent the recruitment of child soldiers.

Since the increase in violence in April 2006 some 250,000 people have been displaced with 11,000 fleeing to India. An estimated 1000 people are thought to have been killed over the past five months.

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