Ban Ki-moon Visits War Refugees in Sri Lanka

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who visited a displacement camp packed with Tamil civilians and flew over the former battlefield Saturday, has appealed to Sri Lanka’s government to “heal the wounds” of Tamils at the conclusion of three decade long civil war.

Since declaration of victory over Tamil tigers, the secretary-general was the first eminet international personality to pay a visit to Sri Lanka.

In his flight over the former battlefield along northeastern coast, Ban saw that the earth was scorched and the area pocked with craters. Cars and trucks were overturned and bunkers were dug outside tents clustered in the area.

It may be mentioned that human rights groups and officials of international agencies accused the government of heavily bombarding the area, which is densely populated with civilians. However, the government denied using heavy weapons.

According to rough estimates, almost 300,000 Tamil civilians were displaced in the final months of fighting and sent to dozens of government-run camps in the north.

The main camp, known as Manik Farm, holds a vast expanse of white tents neatly lined up in rows on dirt paths. Roads between the tents are crammed with people, and barbed wire fences encircle the area, keeping the tens of thousands of civilians from getting out. Soldiers are stationed across the camp.

Aid agencies have appealed to the government to allow the displaced more freedom, but military officials say that it is too dangerous to let them out because rebels could be hiding among the civilians.

Some of the camp residents held signs welcoming Ban on his 24-hour trip here.

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