Brussels, 16 December 2009 - The European Commission has allocated another €5 million to provide humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host families in Sri Lanka. The current return process has triggered urgent humanitarian needs in particular for protection, temporary shelter, health services (mobile clinics and specific care for conflict victims) and demining in heavily mined return areas. At the same time, the Commission has allocated a further €1 million in humanitarian aid for Sri Lankan refugees living in camps in Tamil Nadu, India. All relief funds are channelled through the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) under the responsibility of Commissioner Karel de Gucht.
Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "The Government of Sri Lanka has taken steps in the right direction. Pending proper verification of the conditions on the ground, I would like to reiterate that the Commission's humanitarian benchmarks, which include full freedom of movement for all internally displaced persons, a clear and shared planning on their safe and dignified return and a role for the international non-governmental relief organisations in the return process, remain valid."
He added: "The Commission is also concerned by the lack of protection for the internally displaced, especially for female-headed households and single women returning alone to their villages as well as for the disabled. I urge the Government of Sri Lanka to enter into a constructive dialogue with the international aid community to allow for a transparent, credible and realistic handling of the humanitarian situation, including full and unimpeded access for all aid agencies and donors ready to provide assistance."
Since 2007, the Commission has given a total of more than €48 million in aid for the victims of the humanitarian crises in Sri Lanka, including today's allocation.
The Commission-funded humanitarian projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. ECHO has a support office in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, to follow developments in the humanitarian situation and to monitor the use of the Commission's relief funds.
For further information: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm