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Sri Lanka: High Commissioner starts visit

Briefing notes

Sri Lanka: High Commissioner starts visit

25 July 2006

High Commissioner António Guterres today begins a three-day mission to Sri Lanka (25-27 July). It will be the first visit by a UNHCR High Commissioner to the country, where we've been working with conflict-displaced people since 1987.

The purpose of his visit is to meet displaced people in the north and east of the country and hear first-hand their concerns and needs. He will also meet UNHCR staff to discuss their humanitarian work.

Guterres is also expected to meet high-level government officials, the UN country team and donors. On a field visit to the north of the country, he is to meet local officials as well as members of the LTTE to discuss humanitarian issues related to displaced people in the north.

In Sri Lanka, our activities are centred on providing protection for an estimated 314,400 internally displaced people, some of whom have been out of their homes for more than 20 years. Since April this year, some 50,000 people have fled their homes in Sri Lanka because of renewed violence and are now living mainly in neighbouring communities in Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Puttalam and in the north of the country. UNHCR is monitoring the displacement and providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the newly displaced.