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  Words in the News
  The UN, marking World Refugee Day on 20th June, says there are 12 million refugees worldwide and twice as many internally displaced people - refugees in their own countries. One of the largest groups of displaced people is in Sri Lanka. More from the BBC's Francis Harrison in Colombo.
  Audio Listen to the report in full
A woman crying over relatives lost in Sri Lankan civil conflict

20th June 2001

Refugee crisis in Sri Lanka

  Audio Listen to the first part of the report

The United Nations says there 800,000 internally displaced people in Sri Lanka who fled their homes because of bombardment, shifting front lines and policies of ethnic cleansing. Many receive government food rations, and about a quarter are living in welfare camps. The majority, but by no means all, are from the country's Tamil minority. Then there are at least half a million, if not more, Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Europe, North America, India and the Middle East. Accurate figures are hard to come by: there's been no census since the war began, but it's clear a huge proportion of Sri Lankan Tamils have been uprooted from their homes by this conflict.

    Audio Listen to the words

displaced - forced to move away from the area where they live

bombardment - a strong and continuous attack of gunfire or bombing

ethnic - connected with different races or cultural groups of people

rations - when something is scarce, your ration of it is the amount you are allowed to have

welfare - here: intended to help to improve people's living conditions and financial problems

refugees - people who have been forced to leave their country because of war or their political or religious beliefs

census - an official examination of the details of a country's population

uprooted - made to leave a place where you have lived for a long time

NEWS 2    Audio Listen to the second part of the report
    Half the displaced are children and the UN says its important they don't grow up in overcrowded camps, hotbeds of resentment and frustration, with the government and donors waiting for an end to the conflict before they provide a permanent solution. The UN is now considering relocating displaced people to a third location, neither their home nor a camp, but a place where they can put down roots and offer their children a settled future while they sit out the war.
    Audio Listen to the words

overcrowded - if a place is overcrowded, there are too many people in it

hotbeds - situations or places in which there are large amounts of unpleasant feelings

relocating - moving to a different place

put down roots - to make a place, where you feel you belong, your home

a settled future - a calmer and more stable way of life, living in one place

sit out - wait patiently until something ends

    Read about the background in BBC News Online

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