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Brussels, 27 May 2005

Commission provides a further EUR 2 million to help returnees and internally displaced persons in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu (India)

The European Commission adopted today the eight allocation of humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka since the February 2002 ceasefire agreement. The longest period of truce ever since the conflict started in 1983 has allowed more than 380 000 internally displaced persons living in the north and north-east of Sri Lanka to return home. The new funding decision, to be implemented by the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), will help the new returnees to restart quickly their livelihood as well as providing basic support to vulnerable displaced people living in welfare centres. Also ECHO will help to improve the nutritional status of Tamil women and children still exiled in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu in India.

Commissioner for Development and humanitarian aid Louis Michel said: “International attention has been given to the Sri Lankan victims of the tsunami and the European Union institutions as well as the citizens have generously and massively responded to the disaster. However we should not forget that the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka have been the theatre of one of the longest and deadly forgotten conflicts for years and that more nearly 350,000 people are still displaced because of it. The ceasefire agreement provides an historic opportunity for a huge number of vulnerable people to return home. The European Commission, via ECHO, will continue with this decision to bring immediate support to these returnees and to those who are still suffering from the effects of the conflict”.

Since the 2002 ceasefire, ECHO has provided more than €24 million in humanitarian aid to help returnees and resident populations in the conflict-affected districts in Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu in India.

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