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UN agency in Sri Lanka facing funding crisis

(Xinhua)

08:59, August 16, 2011

COLOMBO, Aug.15 (Xinhua) -- A United Nations agency in Colombo is facing serious funding constraints as international donors have given less than half of the financial requirements for its work in Sri Lanka in 2011.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Monday that the agency's total budget for 2011 is approximately 27.1 million U.S. dollars but as the final quarter approaches, only less than half of this requirement has been met.

The UNHCR said in a statement that it is encouraging governments across the world to step up and support the agency's work in Sri Lanka, help the most vulnerable communities affected by decades of conflict, provide durable solutions and prevent further displacement.

"It is important to understand that there are still many urgent humanitarian needs, mainly in the return areas of the north. But a lack of funding has been a critical issue," said UNHCR representative in Sri Lanka Michael Zwack.

"We thank foreign governments that have recognized this and committed funds for humanitarian operations in the country," he said.

A number of governments, have already provided financial support to UNHCR's important work in Sri Lanka this year. The money has gone a long way towards meeting the urgent needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Sri Lankan refugees returning home.

A big part of the financial contributions has helped UNHCR and partners support the Sri Lankan government with facilitating the safe and voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Sri Lankan refugees.

UNHCR is also using some of the money to support IDPs still in camps and ensure the care and maintenance of a small numbers of refugees from other countries in Sri Lanka.

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