Tamils

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 15th October 2008.

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Photo of Andrew Dismore Andrew Dismore Labour, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the numbers of Tamil women and children displaced in Sri Lanka since the end of July 2008; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Michael Foster Michael Foster Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

I have been asked to reply.

We estimate that the number of Sri Lankans displaced in the latest surge in conflict between the Sri Lankan armed forces and separatist extremists has risen from approximately 75,000 in July to between 200,000 and 250,000. Most of these people are Tamils. We estimate that about two thirds of them are likely to be women and children, but it is not possible to calculate numbers exactly because there is no humanitarian access. They are trapped between opposing forces in a pocket of north-east Sri Lanka without the assistance they need. There are plans by the United Nations and the Sri Lankan authorities to mount relief convoys but so far very little is getting through. As I said in the House on 14 October 2008, Official Repor t, columns 240-48WH, we deplore this situation, have called on all parties to the conflict to facilitate access and humanitarian aid and have committed a further £2.5 million in humanitarian relief through the international agencies.

We estimate that the total number of internally displaced people in Sri Lanka is now at least 500,000.

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