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Sri Lanka: ICRC resumes assistance to displaced people in Vavuniya camp

22-05-2009 Interview

On 21 May, the Sri Lankan authorities restored the ICRC’s access to parts of Menik Farm. This is the largest camp for displaced persons in Sri Lanka, housing over 130,000 people. An update from Monica Zanarelli, the ICRC's deputy head of operations for South Asia.

   

   
 
Monica Zanarelli, the ICRC’s deputy head of operations for South Asia    
     What has happened recently regarding ICRC access to Menik Farm?  

Yesterday, 21 May, the authorities allowed the ICRC back in to part of this huge camp near Vavuniya. ICRC teams have started to distribute aid to thousands of families. We hope to obtain full access very soon, in view of the urgent needs o f tens of thousands of displaced people, especially those who only recently emerged from the zone that had witnessed such heavy fighting.

 Has the ICRC been able to visit the group of doctors currently being detained?  

Yesterday, in the context of our regular visits to places of detention in Sri Lanka, the ICRC was able to talk in private to three doctors from the Ministry of Health who had left the conflict area in recent days. We are looking for a fourth doctor, who was injured during the conflict and who is said to have been hospitalized. These are the doctors with whom the ICRC had been working to evacuate nearly 14,000 patients and their carers between mid-February and 9 May.

 Is there any news about the ICRC staff who left the conflict zone last Sunday?  

Yes. While we have yet to physically meet all members of our team of some 20 national staff, we have been able to account for them all, after losing contact during the final stages of the conflict.