Sri Lanka needs help to meet refugee challenge: UN chief

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

May 23, 2009 (LBO) – The UN chief Ban Ki-moon who pressed for access to camps housing nearly 300,000 refugees in northern Sri Lanka says more help is needed to meet their needs while a longer term solution is needed to permanently solve the conflict. “If equality is not delivered history could repeat itself,” Ban said.

“Our political solution will be an inclusive one,” Sri Lankan foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama, who was also present at the media conference told reporters.

In a one-day visit to the island Ban visited refugee camps in the north to which access is tightly controlled.

“It was a very sobering visit and very saddening,” Ban told reporters in the central hill city of Kandy.

“The government is doing a commendable job, but faces many challenges.”

The people in the camps were held as human shields by Tamil Tiger separatists in the last stages of the fighting, which ended last week with the elimination of the top leadership of the group, including its leader.

Ban said refugees complained of food and cooking oil shortages.

“We must help the government to meet immediate humanitarian needs.”

Though officials originally estimated that only 70,000 people were held as a human shield by Tigers, eventua