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Sri Lanka: Humanitarian assistance for the displaced

13-07-2000 News Release 00/26

From April to June the ICRC assisted thousands of people displaced by the fighting between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on the Jaffna peninsula. 

With the support of the Sri Lankan Red Cross, it distributed non-food relief items to over 9,000 internally displaced people in Jaffna town, Walikamam West and Point Pedro and to over 1,800 people in the Wanni area who had fled the fighting on the Jaffna peninsula. Mobile health clinics run jointly with the National Society treated 5,000 patients in 63 different locations and 850 red cross messages were collected from displaced people in Jaffna and distributed to relatives. An ICRC water and sanitation team was deployed with public health inspectors to clean up the crowded welfare centres on the peninsula.

To date all the efforts made to obtain access to the north of Tenmaradchi division (Jaffna peninsula), where fighting continues, have failed since no agreement could be reached with the parties to the conflict. The ICRC has therefore been unable to provide an undetermined number of civilians who are stranded in the area with protection and assistance.

In May and June, the ICRC-chartered vessel " Java Gulf " carried nearly 700 patients and relatives to and from government hospitals in Colombo, 271 NGO personnel including doctors from Trincomalee to the Jaffna peninsula and back, and 217 tonnes of cargo including non-food relief items for distribution in Jaffna, drugs for government hospitals and mail for the Sri Lanka Post Authority.

The ICRC has been present in Sri Lanka since 1989. It has 49 expatriates and 300 local staff based at its delegation in Colombo and in its 11 offices in the north and east of the country.