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Sri Lanka: Humanitarian Access

Volume 696: debated on Wednesday 5 December 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of humanitarian access to resettlement areas in Sri Lanka where nearly 100,000 internally displaced persons have been resettled since June 2007. [HL511]

Officials from our high commission in Colombo and from the Department for International Development regularly travel to conflict-affected areas in eastern Sri Lanka. Most recently they visited Batticaloa in mid-November. During the most intense periods of fighting in eastern Sri Lanka in the summer, humanitarian access was extremely difficult. It has improved, but there remain significant obstacles in terms of physical access and bureaucracy.

In its role as local presidency of the EU, our high commission in Colombo participates with the Sri Lankan Government in the high-level committee that co-ordinates humanitarian affairs and that is tasked with resolving issues around access and security. The Government are a signatory to Guiding Principles for Humanitarian and Development Assistance to Sri Lanka, which seeks to ensure a consistent treatment of the humanitarian community, and our high commission regularly meets British non-governmental organisations operating in Sri Lanka to discuss security and access issues.