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Sri Lanka: sailing home

06-03-1996 News Release 96/9

The ICRC has just arranged for some 350 civilians from Karainagar and islands west of the Jaffna peninsula to return to their homes. The people concerned had been stranded in the eastern town of Trincomalee since last summer, when the ferryboat Iris Mona ceased to ply between   the two regions. The Iris Mona was highjacked on 29 August 1995 by rebels of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). 

The ICRC operation, which was carried out at the request of the Sri Lanka government, lasted through February and into the first week of March. The civilians travelled aboard the Habarana , a ship chartered by the ICRC and sailing under its protection. Several return voyages were necessary to transport them all. The waters in this area are considered to be within a conflict zone because of frequent armed clashes between the Sri Lanka navy and the LTTE.