Thursday, September 17, 2009

UN envoy touring Sri Lanka camps

A top UN envoy is touring camps holding hundreds of thousands of displaced Tamils in northern Sri Lanka.

Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe has visited the camps in Jaffna and is now heading to the biggest camp, Menik Farm.

Mr Pascoe is in Sri Lanka for talks with the government on the post-conflict situation in the country.

He is expected to press the government to speed up the release of about 300,000 Tamils currently held in camps.

Earlier, he said he would also urge the government to address allegations of human rights abuses during the fighting.

Sri Lanka's civil war came to an end earlier this year after government forces defeated Tamil Tiger rebels.

Mr Pascoe is scheduled to meet the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday.

UN officials say Mr Pascoe will be holding talks on critical issues related to the aftermath of the armed conflict.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says there are issues of great sensitivity.

One is the resettlement of the Tamil internal refugees, most of whom are still not allowed to leave government-run camps in the north.

Although the authorities are gradually letting some return to their villages, the UN wants to see faster progress.

Aid agencies have also been warning that shelters may not easily withstand the monsoon.

Another sensitive area is setting up what the UN calls a mechanism of accountability, for alleged human rights violations in the context of the conflict.

Mr Pascoe will also have talks on political reconciliation.


Related Links:
Top UN official in Sri Lanka to push for rights probe - AFP

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