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Top UN official to visit Sri Lanka’s war victims

[AFP, Tuesday, 18 January 2011 12:19 No Comment]

A top UN official due in Sri Lanka Wednesday to assess flood relief needs will also visit civilians displaced by the island's Tamil separatist conflict, the UN said. A top UN official due in Sri Lanka Wednesday to assess flood relief needs will also visit civilians displaced by the island’s Tamil separatist conflict, the UN said.

Catherine Bragg, the UN’s deputy emergency relief coordinator, will issue an international appeal to help more than one million people affected by the recent floods that claimed 43 lives and inundated vast swathes of rice fields.

"During her mission, Bragg will visit the north of the country where thousands have returned following the end of the conflict, as well as visit the worst-flood affected areas in the east," the UN said in a statement.

More than 300,000 people were driven out of their homes in the final months of fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels that ended with the Tigers’ final defeat in May 2009.

Nearly 20,000 war-displaced civilians still live in state-run welfare camps in the island’s north.

Sri Lanka has been at loggerheads with the UN over Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s appointment of a panel to advise him on alleged war crimes committed by both sides in the waning months of the ethnic conflict.

Sri Lanka last month said it would allow Ban’s panel to visit the island, but made it clear that they would not be allowed to conduct their own investigations.

The UN has said at least 7,000 civilians perished in the final months of fighting, while international rights groups have put the toll at more than 30,000.

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