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Sri Lanka: UNHCR's Jaffna staff help 10,000+

Briefing notes

Sri Lanka: UNHCR's Jaffna staff help 10,000+

26 May 2000

UNHCR staff this week evacuated 224 of 351 displaced Sri Lankans from a school in Varani, 30 miles east north-east of Jaffna, which has come under repeated shelling. Conditions in the school were also extremely poor. The 224 people, who had moved from one place to another four times in as many weeks to escape fighting, were transported by UNHCR Wednesday in a convoy of five trucks to the village of Vavveditturai, just outside the port town of Point Pedro. They are now accommodated in another school, which UNHCR had repaired. The rest of the displaced at Varani elected to stay to try and return home when conditions permit.

Despite the fighting and a 21-hour curfew, UNHCR's three expatriate and six local staff members in Jaffna have been able to provide assistance to some 10,000 displaced people in more than 40 communal centres in the Jaffna peninsula. So far, there have been few arrivals in India from the Jaffna peninsula. Over the past week, around 80 Sri Lankans were reported to have arrived in southern India. UNHCR, which leads the U.N. humanitarian effort in Sri Lanka on behalf of the Secretary-General, has worked on the island for 18 years, helping hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people.