Top UN official to visit restive Sri Lanka

UNITED NATIONS, February 18, 2009 (AFP) – UN humanitarian chief John Holmes is to pay a three-day visit to strife-torn Sri Lanka later this week to review the humanitarian situation, the world body said Wednesday.

During his previous visit to Sri Lanka in August 2007, Holmes described the island as one of the world’s most dangerous places for aid workers and noted that more than 30 relief workers had been killed since early 2006.

UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe confirmed an announcement from Colombo that the UN emergency relief coordinator was due in Sri Lanka Thursday at the invitation of the Sri Lankan government.

She told a press briefing that Holmes planned to discuss the humanitarian situation arising from the government military offensive against Tamil rebels with representatives of the government, UN member states, the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations.

Okabe said the UN official would also meet with people displaced by the conflict and give a press conference before wrapping up his visit on Saturday.

In Colombo, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said Holmes would look at arrangements for thousands of civilians caught in the wa