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Sri Lanka: Humanitarian convoy reaches Vakarai

12-08-2006 News Release 06/92

Colombo / Geneva (ICRC) – An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convoy of 17 trucks and four cars today reached the town of Vakarai in the Batticaloa district of eastern Sri Lanka in the early afternoon local time.

The convoy brought food, water and other items such as tarpaulins, mats, bed sheets, cooking pots and buckets for distribution to thousands of displaced people fleeing the fighting in the Echilampattai area.

'' The most important thing at this stage is to provide the displaced with water as quickly as possible,'' said José Manuel Ferreira, an ICRC water and habitat engineer participating in the relief operation. Thousands of people are currently displaced in several areas of the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts, living in desperate conditions and unable to meet their basic needs.

This latest relief operation was launched in cooperation with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and other humanitarian organizations currently operating on the ground, including the World Food Programme, UNICEF, UNHCR, World Vision and the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development.

Over the past four days, the ICRC and other components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have also provided displaced families in the towns of Kantale and Kinniya with 1,160 tarpaulins, 1,137 hygiene kits (soap, washing powder, razors, bath towels and shampoo), 450 baby parcels (blankets, towels and baby powder), 130 kits of essential household items (bed sheets, plates, cups, mats, kerosene cookers, lanterns, mosquito nets, cooking pots) and 130 tents. In addition, the ICRC is installing sanitary facilities and two water-distribution systems in the camps where the families are sheltering. The organization has also begun construction of a field hospital with 80 beds in Kantale.

The ICRC is following with gr eat concern the new outbreaks of violence in Sri Lanka and stands ready to assist and protect the population in need.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Carla Haddad, ICRC Geneva, tel : +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26  

 Davide Vignati, ICRC Colombo, tel : +94 11 250 33 46 or +94 77 728 96 82