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U.S. Helping In Sri Lanka


U.S. Helping In Sri Lanka

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Having waged a 25-year secessionist war against the government of Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, an insurgent group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and 31 other countries, finally surrendered on May 17th of this year.

According to the United Nations, nearly 100,000 people were killed in the 3 decades of Sri Lanka's civil war and several hundreds of thousands were displaced.

Today, some 280,000 civilians, most of them ethnic Tamils, live in government relief camps, waiting to go home. The government of Sri Lanka has pledged to release most of these displaced people from the camps by the end of the year.

The U.S. Government has provided approximately $57 million for humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka in 2009. This includes $42 million in emergency food aid and over $11 million in emergency non-food relief to agencies such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Most of this assistance has been directed to help Sri Lankans who fled the conflict in the North, and was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to procure food and medical aid, including individual hygiene and baby kits, and emergency health response kits filled with bandages and medicines, and to fund health outreach programs. Some of the money will be used to build sanitation and bathing facilities, as well as temporary shelters, and to pay for emergency transportation.

Because the Sri Lankan government stated that the internally displaced persons, or IDPs, cannot go home until former combat areas are de-mined, the U.S. announced that the Department of State’s Bureau of Political and Military Affairs Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement will provide $6 million for mine removal.

"We strongly support the desire of the Government of Sri Lanka to return internally displaced persons to their homes safely and quickly so they can begin to rebuild their communities,” said U.S Chargé d’Affaires to Sri Lanka, James R. Moore.

The U.S. hopes that its support will mitigate the suffering of Sri Lanka's IDPs, and hasten their return home.

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