| GEO World|
| UN chief visits Sri Lanka conflict zone|
| Updated at: 1225 PST, Saturday, May 23, 2009|
COLOMBO: UN chief Ban Ki-moon Saturday saw at first hand the plight of civilians displaced by Sri Lanka's conflict with the Tamil Tigers amid concerns for 300,000 Tamils left homeless by the fighting.
Just days after Colombo declared victory over the rebels, the United Nations secretary general toured the sprawling Menik Farm camp, home to thousands of civilians who fled the war zone.
Tamil activists have likened the barbed wire "welfare villages" housing the civilians to concentration camps, while UN and relief aid agencies have complained about restrictions placed by the authorities on vehicle access to the shelters.
Ban flew north after early morning talks in Colombo with Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama.
The Menik Farm camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) is in the town of Vavuniya, one of dozens ravaged and ruined by decades of ethnic war. It is home to between 160,000 and 180,000 traumatised civilians, according to UN humanitarian chief John Holmes, who recently visited it and described it as "one of the biggest IDP camps in the world."
More than 20 reporters travelling with Ban were also set to get a rare look at the camp and join him on a flight over the conflict zone.