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Sri Lanka: Internally Displaced Persons

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 21 January 2009, Official Report, columns 30-31WS, on Sri Lanka, when he expects a humanitarian expert from his Department to visit Sri Lanka to assess the distribution of aid to assist internally displaced persons in northern Sri Lanka; and when he expects to publish the expert’s report. (251083)

An humanitarian assessment mission will visit Sri Lanka from 16-26 February. The findings of the report will subsequently be placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the Sri Lankan Government on access for an independent group to carry out an assessment of the humanitarian needs of internally displaced persons in northern Sri Lanka. (251086)

The Department for International Development (DFID) Ministers have discussed the need for an independent assessment of the humanitarian situation in their recent engagements with Sri Lankan officials. I raised the issue with the Sri Lankan high commissioner on 4 December. My hon. Friend, the Minister of State (Mr. Thomas) also discussed the humanitarian situation with the high commissioner on 26 November.

Diplomatic efforts are ongoing at the highest level. My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister has written to President Rajapakse to express his concerns at the humanitarian situation, including the need for a full independent assessment to be carried out. The British high commissioner in Colombo also regularly presses for increased humanitarian access and the need for an independent needs assessment in his contacts with Government officials at senior levels, including with the President.