Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

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The Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced  persons, Walter Kälin, conducted an official mission to Sri Lanka from 14 to 21 December 2007, by invitation of the Sri Lankan Government and pursuant to his mandate contained in resolution 6/32 of the Human Rights Council. His main objective was to engage in dialogue with the Government with a view to improving the protection and ensuring the full enjoyment of the human rights of the estimated 577,000 persons displaced in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, his assessment identifies key obstacles and conditions necessary to enable internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka to find durable solutions.


1. In accordance with his mandate contained in Human Rights Council resolution 6/32, and by invitation of the Sri Lankan Government, the Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons (hereinafter “the Representative”), Walter Kälin, conducted an official mission to Sri Lanka from 14 to 21 December 2007.1 His main objective was to engage in dialogue with the Government with a view to ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka by identifying conditions necessary for them to achieve durable and sustainable solutions.

2. In Colombo, the Representative met with government officials, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and donors. He travelled through Puttalam, Vavuniya, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts, where he met with IDPs and returnees, community and religious leaders, government agents, local area security commanders, local and international non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies. He regrets that he was unable to visit Kilinochchi to raise humanitarian and protection concerns with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and to meet IDPs in the Vanni.2 While this mission focused on those displaced by armed conflict and acts of violence, the Representative recalls those displaced by the devastating tsunami of 26 December 2004.

3. The Representative appreciates the cooperation of the Government of Sri Lanka, the access granted to him to most parts of the country, and the open conversations he had with all interlocutors. He is most grateful for the perfect support provided by the United Nations Country Team, in particular the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Colombo and its field offices. He was well served by the wealth of information provided to him by civil society organizations and appreciates the communications he received in advance and during his visit. Above all, he thanks the many IDPs who graciously shared their experiences with him under difficult circumstances; their courage and dignity left an enduring impression.

4. The Representative shared his primary findings with the Government at the conclusion of his mission and was encouraged by the willingness of governmental officials to acknowledge problems in the response to internal displacement and the protection of IDPs. He particularly welcomes the Government’s prompt consideration of his recommendations through the mechanism of the Consultative Committee for Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA). He underscores his desire and intention to continue this dialogue.