UN sets guideline for IDP handling

The United Nations has issued guidelines to the Government as an apparent pre-condition for future international cooperation in tackling the humanitarian crisis in the north, a senior UN official said yesterday.

These guidelines will figure prominently at discussions when the Government meets representatives from the donor countries and the UN at a meeting in Colombo tomorrow to discuss assistance for humanitarian needs of the displaced people.The UN official said the guidelines were handed over to the Government last month by Walter Kaelin, a senior New York-based UN representative dealing with internally displaced people and expert on international laws.

Known as the "Kaelin Plan", it calls on the Government to ensure the safety of the civilians trapped in the fighting, protect the displaced people currently housed in temporary shelters and resettle them in their original homes, the official said.

"These are specific and strict guide lines in keeping with international regulations. The Government has been urged to follow them," the official said.At tomorrow’s meeting between Government officials and donor countries and the UN, key issues including the early release and re-settlement of the IDPs would be discussed, the official said.

They would try to hammer out effective and early solutions to the swelling crisis in the north as thousands of civilians continued to seek refuge in the military-controlled areas. The government and the UN agencies will also seek more aid from the donor countries, the official said.

"The situation is very much different from what it was a month ago and we will have to concentrate on new areas, such as shelter, sanitation and health care. Therefore donor assistance will be sought at every level,” Disaster Management and Human Rights Ministry Secretary Rajiva Wijesinha said.

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