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Sri Lanka: ICRC launches operation to evacuate people stranded in Jaffna

25-08-2006 News Release 06/98

Colombo / Geneva (ICRC) – A ferry flying the flag of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) left the port of Trincomalee at 10 a.m. today, heading for Jaffna.

The vessel will evacuate 150 people from the peninsula, cut off by renewed fighting in the north of Sri Lanka. Priority will be given to people needing medical care, families with children and some foreign citizens. The local authorities will carry out the evacuation tomorrow morning in cooperation with the ICRC staff.

The ferry is carrying sufficient food and water to cater for 150 people during the return trip, as well as some emergency medicines and 320 blankets. " The vessel is expected to reach Jaffna in the evening " , said ICRC field coordinator Serge Thierry, one of the three staff members from the organization on board.

Both parties to the conflict have provided security guarantees for the operation. Once the ferry returns to Trincomalee, the evacuees will be transferred by bus to Colombo under ICRC escort. " We are discussing with both parties to the conflict the possibility of carrying out further evacuations " , said Toon Vandenhove, head of the organization's delegation in Colombo.

Meanwhile, another ship that left Colombo on Wednesday under the ICRC flag carrying food and medicine provided by the Sri Lankan government and the World Food Programme arrived at Point Pedro yesterday evening. Unloading of the 1,500 tonnes of supplies began early this morning.

 

For further information, please contact:
  Davide Vignati, ICRC Colombo, tel : +94 11 250 33 46 or +94 77 728 96 82
  Carla Haddad, ICRC Geneva, tel : +41 22 730 24 05 or mobile +41 79 217 32 26