Sri Lanka

Faster help needed for displaced refugees in Sri Lanka following Easter attacks - UNHCR

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This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Almost three weeks on from the devastating Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency remains extremely concerned both at the impact this has had on Sri Lankans themselves and by the continuing situation for more than a thousand refugees and asylum seekers who fled their homes in the attacks aftermath.

UNHCR is working closely with the government, UN and other partners, and local communities to ensure all refugees and asylum-seekers are safe and looked after. We are actively assisting the displaced while discussions are ongoing with the authorities to identify alternative accommodation until refugees are able to return to their residences. We have deployed additional staff to support the government’s efforts.

Currently, 1,060 refugees and asylum seekers, including women and children, are staying in local mosques, police stations and community centres, having sought refuge for fear of possible reprisals and threats. Many fled persecution in their home countries due to their religion or political beliefs.

UNHCR is providing food, medicine, and shelter materials, while conducting assessments of additional needs. The authorities and local groups have been supportive and helpful, but these sites are not meant to accommodate large numbers of people over time. Families with small children are living without proper shelter, sanitation and access to health care. Quick responses are needed.

Today there are nearly 1,700 registered refugees and asylum seekers in Sri Lanka. Hundreds still live peacefully in their local communities. Sri Lanka has long offered protection to refugees of diverse religions and nationalities, and UNHCR stands in support of the Government and people of Sri Lanka in these trying times.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Thailand, Caroline Gluck,, +66 2 342 3503
In Geneva, Babar Baloch,, +41 79 513 95 49