UNHCR appeals for funds to increase help for Sri Lanka's displaced
GENEVA, August 30 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency, as part of a joint UN humanitarian action plan for Sri Lanka, is appealing for more than US$5 million to help provide shelter, emergency supplies and protection to the more than 200,000 people displaced by fighting in the south Asian island nation.
"The renewed and spiralling levels of open warfare in the north and east have shattered the fragile ceasefire causing grave humanitarian consequences, including civilian casualties and new displacement," said an executive summary of the UN Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP).
The CHAP, launched in Geneva on Wednesday, is appealing for a total of US$37.46 million, including US$5.13 million for UNHCR.
More than 217,000 Sri Lankans have been displaced within the country since fighting flared up in April. During the same period, some 11,000 people have fled across the Palk Strait to find refuge in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, according to latest figures.
The conflict pits Sri Lankan government forces against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who both signed a ceasefire in 2002 that still technically remains in effect. The renewed violence has killed more than 1,000 people this year.
Since April, UNHCR has been responding to the assistance and protection needs of the growing numbers of displaced by monitoring the situation, helping with shelter needs and distributing essential relief items such as kitchen utensils, towels, bed linen, jerry cans, tarpaulins, mats and soap.
Access has often been difficult in parts of the country, restricting the work of humanitarian agencies. But as fighting continues and the numbers of displaced increase, the needs of the affected population are deepening.
"To swiftly and successfully meet the needs of people uprooted from their homes by recent fighting, it is vitally important that we have the necessary funds," said Amin Awad, UNHCR's representative in Sri Lanka. "As the situation protracts and shelter and other needs increase, we need the help of donors more than ever. This is why so much hinges on this appeal," he added.
The CHAP, presented in a report with annexes, said current emergency programmes will be based on a level of 200,000 newly displaced people while aiming at a preparedness capacity for up to 400,000 internally displaced.
"Harassment, intimidation, shelling, aerial bombings and retaliatory attacks are causes for people to flee once again," the report said, citing a recently conducted assessment.
"The recent displacement has seen large groups of civilians moving into adjacent areas, adding pressure to existing communities, already affected by the crisis," it added.
UNHCR is planning to assist with temporary emergency shelters for large groups of people as well as supporting host families and groups living in public buildings.
Family shelter support packages, including building tools and materials, will be delivered to those in need.