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50,000 civilians trapped in Lanka war zone: UN

April 24, 2009 13:54 IST

The United Nations on Friday said that more than 50,000 civilians were still trapped in Sri Lanka's war zone and renewed its call to Colombo to allow an assessment mission into the area to facilitate relief operations and evacuation procedures.

"We estimate that 50,000 civilians are still trapped in the crossfire between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the Wanni region of the country where the government's armed forces has launched its final assault against the Tamil Tigers," Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg said.

Addressing a press conference, she told reporters some 100,000 people had managed to come out of the war zone according to government estimates. But said there was no direct confirmation. The Sri Lankan government had said that an estimated 15,000 people still remained in the war zone.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has ordered a humanitarian assessment team to enter Sri Lanka. Ban told reporters in Brussels that the purpose of the team would be to monitor the situation and channelise relief measures.

The Sri Lanka government has, however, rejected appeals for an immediate humanitarian mission, saying it was not in a position to let aid agencies into the war zone.

Lalit K Jha in United Nations
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