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Sri Lanka: resumption of talks

Briefing notes

Sri Lanka: resumption of talks

31 January 2006

Since an agreement was reached between the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE last week to hold new talks in Geneva, violence in the north-east is reported to have fallen significantly. While the general security situation is showing some signs of improvement, UNHCR field offices in Sri Lanka report that tensions remain high in many areas; that perceived harassment of civilians by security forces continues; and that some population movement persists.

In addition, Tamils from Sri Lanka continued to arrive in southern India during the past week, even after the announcement of the resumption of talks between the parties. The total number of Sri Lankan refugees arriving in Tamil Nadu, India, from 12-30 January now stands at 304. On 26 January, 32 families (105 persons) crossed the Palk Strait. Another seven families (15 persons) arrived yesterday.

UNHCR field offices in Sri Lanka have not observed significant returns of displaced since the announcement of the new talks in Geneva. A 'wait and see' attitude seems to prevail among the newly displaced communities in Sri Lanka's north-east. The number of newly displaced families known to UNHCR now totals some 5,900 in the north-east, compared to around 3,500 families reported a week ago. The increase is partly due to the ongoing recording of people who arrived prior to the announcement of the new talks, and partly due to new arrivals since then. Over the past week, new arrivals of displaced have been recorded in particular in LTTE-controlled Vanni and in Mannar.