£1m for humanitarian relief in Sri Lanka from UK

The British High Commissioner, Dominick Chilcott, welcomed the announcement by the UK Government of an additional one million pounds (approximately 210 million rupees) to assist internally displaced people in Sri Lanka.

The High Commissioner said:

"Recent fighting, particularly in the east of Sri Lanka, has displaced ten of thousands of innocent civilians. Britainís additional funding, to be divided between the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations, will bring much needed help to those who have lost their livelihoods and homes.

"The creation of so many IDPs is a tragedy. Humanitarian assistance is valuable and necessary. But the underlying causes of so much human misery needs to be addressed urgently too. The only solution to this massive disruption of civilian life in Sri Lanka is for all sides to immediately bring the violence to an end."

The UK will give £1 million to help over 300,000 Sri Lankans made homeless by the surge in violence since last year, Gareth Thomas, the Minister for International Development, announced today.

Some of the funds will also be used to help improve security conditions for hundreds of aid workers, particularly those working in the north and east of Sri Lanka, where fighting is fiercest. In 2006, a total of 28 humanitarian staff were killed in Sri Lanka, including 17 officials working for the international charity Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger) in a single incident. An estimated 1400 civilians have been killed over the past 18 months.

Gareth Thomas said:

"The daily cycle of violence is having a catastrophic effect on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the island.

All sides must put an end to the violence and breathe life back into the 2002 peace agreement before more lives are lost.

"The UK continues to work with others to make life more bearable, but people will only feel safe to return to their homes when dialogue replaces gunfire."

In addition to more than 600,000 currently displaced by the conflict, a further 250,000 people remain homeless following the 2005 Asian Tsunami.



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