New York, NY (BBN)- The United Nations is closely watching the situation in Sri Lanka, where the government has declared an end to its military operation against Tamil separatists, a top United Nations official said on Monday.
“The situation is volatile so the facts are not as clear as one might hope,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes told a news conference in New York.
The government of Sri Lanka has declared that its military operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north-east of the country has come to an end and that all the civilians that were trapped in the conflict zone have left.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had estimated that over 50,000 people were still in the conflict zone, a shrinking pocket of land on the northern coastline, as of last week.
“Obviously, we’re relieved that the fighting is finished and hope that all the civilians are indeed out of that zone and indeed heading for safety,” said Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
The OCHA estimates that there are around 220,000 people who have already reached the IDP camps, including 20,000 in the last two or three days. In addition, it is believed that another 40,000-60,000 people are on their way to the camps through the crossing point at Omanthai.
BBN/SS/SS/AD-19May09-12:53 pm (BST)