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UN Children’s Agency Helps 45,000 Sri Lankans

UN Children’s Agency Helps 45,000 Sri Lankans Uprooted By Violence

New York, Oct 13 2006 3:00PM

United Nations agencies are helping the Sri Lankan Government bring in supplies and provisions for 45,000 people who fled south along the island’s east coast, often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, since fighting intensified between Tamil separatist rebels and government forces in early August.

Convoys supported by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other UN agencies are delivering jerry cans, water tanks and mosquito nets to the rows of tents stretching into the distance not far from the shoreline 30 miles north of the town of Batticaloa.

Conditions are difficult in the tent camp. Children and women gather round a concrete well to wash clothes and dowse themselves in cooling water, a relief from the fierce heat. While there is water for washing, drinking water is in short supply and has to be trucked in.

“We are doing our best to help the Government bring in the supplies and support that these people need,” the head of UNICEF's Batticaloa office, Christina de Bruin, said.

Around the tents flies multiply. Visible on children's faces and hands, they carry a risk of spreading infectious disease. Although some children are able to attend temporary classes, for much of the time there is little for anyone to do.

“What the displaced families wish for most is a chance to return home,” UNICEF said in a press report. “But for the moment they fear that home isn't safe, and so they stay.”


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