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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on Sri Lanka

2009-05-18

NEW YORK, 19 May 2009 - "It is reported that access to some camps for internally displaced persons within Sri Lanka has become restricted. Full and unimpeded humanitarian access must be ensured so that children and women can receive the assistance they so desperately need.

"People are arriving into camps sick, malnourished and some with untended wounds of war. By the end of this week, the number of internally displaced people in camps is expected to have grown to more than a quarter of a million people since late April. This massive influx of people, who have suffered as a result of conflict and deprivation, will put an even greater strain on the health, sanitation, and water systems in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.

"UNICEF is committed to working with partners to provide those in the camps with essential water and sanitation, nutrition, maternal and child health care, education and protection.

"Water and sanitation needs are critical. UNICEF and its partners are supplying millions of litres of water each day and rapidly constructing latrines and bathing facilities. In addition, nutritional centres for malnourished children are being established, support is being provided to hospitals to meet the needs of women and children, and efforts are ongoing to provide care and rehabilitation to children who were recruited by armed groups.

"Hygiene kits, emergency health kits, cooking pots, water purification tablets, student and teacher kits, recreation kits, and temporary learning shelters to allow children to resume education are also being provided and UNICEF is helping with psychosocial support and the identification of separated and unaccompanied children."

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.