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Sri Lanka: ICRC concerned about population of Jaffna

01-11-1995 News Release 44

As military operations continue in northern Sri Lanka, prompting more than 100,000 civilians to flee their homes, the ICRC trusts that the warring parties will respect the non-combatant status of the inhabitants of the city of Jaffna. The ICRC has urged both sides to spare the civilian population and to observe the demilitarized zone around the city's hospital, currently under the protection of the Red Cross emblem, where thousands of people have taken refuge.

The ICRC is also concerned by increasing difficulties in getting food and, even more important, essential medicines for the region's health services to their destinations. The food is supplied by the Sri Lanka government and transported from Colombo to Jaffna by the ICRC in ships flying the Red Cross flag. The last ICRC medical consignment reached Jaffna in July, and the latest upsurge in fighting means that there is a growing need for surgical supplies. There is no immediate worry on the food front, but should distribution difficulties persist in the weeks to come the more vulnerable groups among the region's population will be badly affected by shortages.

With the onset of the monsoon in northern Sri Lanka, the ICRC is also concerned about the lack of adequate shelter for many of the displaced families.