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  News

Pervasive fear among IDPs - UN

By Amantha Perera

There is a sense of pervasive fear among the internally displaced in the country, the top UN official on IDPs warned last week as UN agencies reported that they were unable to move any food supplies to IDPs in Mulaithivu and parts of Kilinochchi District.

"The representative was struck by a pervasive sense of fear and uncertainty among those he spoke. Sources of insecurity are varied, but include the following: continued incursions and attacks by the LTTE; disappearances, abductions and looting; threats and attacks upon individuals by irregular and armed groups such as the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP)," the UN said of the visit by Walter K„lin, the representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons.

Kalin was in the country between December 14 and 21 and visited Puttalam, Vavuniya, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts but was not given clearance to visit Kilinochchi by the government.

Ironically during the time of his visit the World Food Programme said it was unable to move food supplies to Mulaithivu and parts of Kilinochchi. "Due to restrictions on movements to Mulaithivu District, WFP was unable to transport food supplies for 8,997 displaced families (32,096 persons). Food was also not transported for WFP, FFE, FFW, FFT and MCN programmes over the past three weeks. In Kilinochchi, Kandawalai AGA located along A-35 road on Paranthan-Mulaithivu road restricted, affecting WFP programmes in the area," the Inter Agency Standing Committee (ISAC) said.

ISAC did not specify what the restrictions were, but aid agencies working in Wanni have complained of increasing restrictions, some imposed by the Tigers, others due to security fears due to the prevalent security situation.

Kalin meanwhile praised the government efforts to resettle the 200,000 IDPs in the east, the mass resettlement had drawn criticism from UN and other agencies at the on set in March 2007.

"Indeed, the majority of the more than 220,000 persons who had to flee their homes in the Eastern Province between April 2006 and March 2007 have returned, been provided with transitional shelter, and are beginning to regain their former lives. While I appreciate what has been achieved, targeted measures in line with international human rights standards and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in the areas of security, livelihoods, and humanitarian access are essential if these returns are to be sustainable in both the near and long-term," he said.

He also requested the government to allow increased access to agencies working on protection relayed issues.

"Better access for agencies and NGOs working on protection would improve confidence among IDP populations because these agencies can identify and promptly facilitate the local resolution of individual concerns," he said.

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