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ICRC distributes relief supplies to thousands of displaced people in eastern Sri Lanka

13-04-2004 News Release 04/52

The ICRC and the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) have distributed non-food relief items to nearly 3,300 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern Sri Lanka.

Thousands of civilians fled their homes following the fierce fighting that erupted between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the LTTE-Karuna faction in the eastern part of Sri Lanka on 9 April. Around 2,600 people took refuge in a school in Mankerni, a village situated south of the combat zone in the Government-controlled area and another 700 fled to Echchilampatai, to the north of the region.

The Sri Lankan authorities and humanitarian agencies provided food, water, shelter and sanitation facilities, and on 11 and 12 April the ICRC distributed 750 family packs of non-food relief items to help the IDPs during their temporary stay. At the same time, the SLRCS provided medical services via its mobile health clinic and first-aid workers.

Several hundred combatants formerly with the LTTE-Karuna faction have surrendered to the LTTE. On 13 April, the ICRC – in close cooperation with UNICEF – accompanied 93 of these former combatants aged under 18 when they returned to their families in Batticaloa.

The ICRC has been in Sri Lanka since 1989, providing protection and assistance to people affected by the conflict between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka. Some 40 expatriates and 280 local staff are currently working in the 10 offices located in the north-east of the island and the main office in the capital Colombo.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Dana Lissy, ICRC Colombo, tel. ++94 777 289 682 or ++94 11 2503 346 (ext. 135)