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Sri Lanka – ICRC Bulletin No. 15 / 2007

31-07-2007 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field - 27 June - 30 July 2007

  General situation
 

The past month was marked by two developments: the gradual loss of control by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of the Thoppigala area in the district of Batticaloa, and intensified fighting in the Madhu and Valitikulam areas west of Vavuniya. On 17 July, the checkpoint at Omanthai was shelled during the night and partially destroyed. When the Omanthai crossing point reopened the next morning, the ICRC was able once again to facilitate the movement of civilians and goods.

On 20 July, at the request of the Sri Lankan security forces, owing to fighting in the area, the ICRC temporarily withdrew from the crossing point in Uyilankulam. Three days later, the ICRC’s staff returned and took up their duties at the crossing point.

The return of displaced persons to Batticaloa West continued. According to local authorities, 90,000 persons returned to their homes in Vavunatheevu, Pattipalai, Mankikadu, Eechchenthivu and Vaharai. However, a total of around 48,000 others are still displaced and living either with host families or in one of the 48 camps for displaced persons in Batticaloa district.

  Health
 

The ICRC maintained its support for health authorities in the Northern and Eastern provinces. In the past month, 39 patients and 9 hospital staff were flown from Jaffna to Colombo, as were 203 laboratory specimens. The ICRC also transported medical equipment and supplies to the teaching hospital in Jaffna and to government health services on the peninsula.

At the Omanthai crossing point, the ICRC facilitated the transfer of about 200 patients between areas controlled by the government and by the LTTE. Surgical supplies were provided to the Vavunyia hospital, to which most surgical patients in Kilinochchi are referred.

Volunteers from the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society continued to promote good health practices and disease-prevention techniques among displaced persons in Trincomalee and Batticaloa.

  Economic security
 

Over the past month, the ICRC has provided approximately 23,000 displaced people in the district of Batticaloa with 2,812 hygiene kits (washing powder, soap, shampoo, etc.), 333 baby parcels (baby soap, towels, baby lotion, powder, etc.), 2,456 vegetable seed kits, 379 tool kits (crowbars, rakes, knives, hoes), 714 tarpaulins and 394 kitchen sets.

4,377 persons returned to their homes in western Batticaloa and 9,400 to theirs in the Vaharai area. However, 9,080 displaced persons assisted by the ICRC are still housed in camps or living with host families in and around Batticaloa.

In the district of Trincomalee, about 1,700 persons returned to their homes in Eachilampattai. They were provided with non-food relief items such as hygiene kits, baby parcels, jerrycans and tarpaulins. Another 1,600 people, in Dehiwatta and Samagipura in the Seruvila area, received assistance (paddy seed, fertilizer and chemicals) for agricultural production.

In Vavuniya, 900 displaced persons received 17 metric tonnes of rice, wheat flour, dhal , oil, sugar and salt. About 600 farmers in Mannar were each given vegetable seed kits and tool kits. In the Talaimannar division, the ICRC distributed 10 sewing machines among households and families with single hea ds. Together with the Sri Lanka Red Cross, the ICRC also distributed 50 tents to displaced families in Padaviya, in the district of Anuradhapura.

In the Vanni region, to assist in the process of resettlement, the ICRC provided 170 returnees in Venavil and Mullaitivu with a variety of non-food relief items: kits of essential household items (metal buckets, hurricane lanterns, rope, jerrycans, towels, mats, bed sheets), sarees , men’s underwear, hygiene kits, baby parcels and mosquito nets.

In Jaffna, 1,670 displaced persons were provided with 350 mosquito nets and 350 baby parcels. 

  Water and habitat
 

Because so many displaced persons have returned to their homes, the ICRC has been able to dismantle 700 shelters and 60 pit latrines in the camps in Palameenmadu, Kaluthavale and EravilThoddam. These materials will be reused to benefit returnees in Unnichai, Panchenai, Kanthinagar, Pavakodichenai, Nediyamadu and Aiythimalai, all in western Batticaloa. About 800 tarpaulin kits (tarpaulins, poles, ground pins, rope) had already been distributed in those areas, to families whose houses had been destroyed or damaged during their displacement.

In Jaffna, the ICRC constructed several latrines in the Sandilipay division. Rehabilitation work has begun for families hosting the displaced in Marcikapiti area in the Sandilipay division.

In Kilinochchi, the ICRC distributed 60 shelter kits (wooden poles, cadjans ). It also completed repairs to two hand-pumps and disinfected seven open wells.

In Trincomalee, the ICRC completed the rehabilitation of three wells in the Muthur and Seruvila divisions. Eleven wells were cleaned in the Eachchilampatthai division.

  Restoring family links
 

The ICRC and the Sri Lanka Red Cross continued to restore and maintain links between members of families separated by the armed conflict. Since 21 June, the ICRC has distributed 198 family messages throughout the country.

  Visiting detainees
 

The ICRC continued to visit persons arrested on security grounds. Its delegates carried out 81 visits to 51 different places of detention and held private interviews with 723 detainees. 

  ICRC presence at crossing points
 

The ICRC acted as a neutral intermediary to facilitate the crossing of 19,000 civilians at Omanthai and Uyilankulam. 

  Cooperation within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement  

The Sri Lanka Red Cross is to launch a nationwide campaign against the misuse of the red cross emblem. It is hoped that this vital initiative will mobilize volunteers, educate the public and increase respect for authorized users of the emblem.

  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 +41 79 217 32 26