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UN Rights Chief Calls on Sri Lanka to Locate War Missing

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein addresses the media in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Feb. 9, 2016.

The U.N. human rights chief has called on the government of Sri Lanka to locate all those detained, reported missing, and presumed killed, during the country's civil war.

Tens of thousands of Sri Lankans were abducted by police, military and paramilitary forces during the country's 37-year civil war that ended in 2009. The government says most of those reported missing, whose names were not in the government's database, are dead.

U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said Tuesday the claim has "created great distress among their families, who until then still had hope."

Zeid said, "This statement must be followed by rapid action to identify precisely who is still alive and who has died or been killed, properly account for their deaths, including whether or not they were unlawful, identify the location of their remains, and provide redress."

During his four-day visit to the country, Zeid met with political leaders including President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss a U.N. resolution in which the country agreed to investigate allegations of war crimes and offer relief for war victims.

Opposition leader Rajavarothiam Sambanthan, who participated in the talks, said during the meeting "we emphasized that the resolution adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council must be fully implemented if there is to be genuine reconciliation in this country on the basis of accountability been addressed."

The United Nations estimates that about 40,000 ethnic minority Tamils died in the final months of the campaign to crush the Tamil rebels. Sri Lanka's government has agreed to a domestic investigation into the allegations.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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