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Sri Lanka: ICRC continues to respond to humanitarian needs

24-02-2010 Operational Update

All over Sri Lanka, the ICRC continues to help those affected by the recent conflict, including detainees and their families, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the war wounded. Meanwhile, the organization continues its discussions with the Sri Lankan government regarding the scope of future ICRC activities in the country. The following is a report on ICRC activities in Sri Lanka between 1 July and 31 December 2009.

The ICRC recently helped Sri Lankan authorities draft a " National Action Plan for the Demobilisation, Disarmament, Reintegration and Rehabilitation of Ex-combatants, " working in coordination with the United Nations. In particular, the organization contributed to the development of safeguards and judicial guarantees aimed at protecting the rights and dignity of the population.

The ICRC registered close to 10,000 " surrenderees " in northern Sri Lanka last June. Since July 2009, however, the organization has had no access to these " surrenderees " or to internally displaced persons currently living in camps in the Vavuniya district.

The ICRC continues to visit people detained in relation to the recent conflict, with the agreement of the authorities. Visits started right back in 1989 and involve ICRC staff visiting places of detention around the country to monitor the treatment of detainees and their conditions of detention. Thousands of detainees have kept in touch with their families through the ICRC's Family Visits Assistance Programme.

The conflict has left thousands disabled, and these people need to regain their mobility and dignity. The ICRC is supporting the Jaffna Jaipur Centre for Disability Rehabilitation, which has been providing artificial limbs, orthotic devices and physiotherapy since 1994. The organization recently provided wheelchairs to patients in Mannar Hospital.

During 2009, the ICRC built semi-permanent shelters and latrines for displaced families living in the Jaffna peninsula. While it does not visit or work at the Manik Farm IDP site, the organization did help displaced persons there through the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society.

As part of its efforts to promote international humanitarian law, the ICRC arranged for 13 representatives from the armed forces, academia and government to attend training programmes for senior personnel during 2009. In addition, over 300 civilians and members of the Sri Lankan armed forces participated in workshops on international humanitarian law and the mandate of the ICRC.

The ICRC continues to support the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, especially in its efforts to improve access to health care, water and sanitation in rural areas. In December 2009, the ICRC donated emergency stocks of household items, baby parcels, prefabricated latrines and hygiene parcels. These goods will allow the Society to respond to the needs of 10,000 people in case of an emergency.

 

   
  Facts and figures    
 
  Between 1 July and 31 December 2009, the ICRC:  
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  • carried out 244 detention visits at 114 places of detention;
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  • paid the public transport costs for the families of 7,000 detainees to visit their relatives in detention, under the Family Visits Assistance programme;
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  • enabled the Jaffna Jaipur Centre for Disability Rehabilitation to provide 179 artificial limbs, 65 orthotic devices, 31 wheelchairs and 71 crutches and sticks, and provided five wheelchairs for patients in Mannar Hospital;
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  • distributed 30,000 hygiene and baby parcels to displaced persons at the Manik Farm IDP site through the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society;
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  • donated emergency stocks of household, hygiene and sanitary items sufficient for 10,000 people;
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  • provided 400 displaced families in Jaffna with hygiene parcels;
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  • distributed 765 semi-permanent shelters to over 3,800 displaced people;
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  • ran 12 information sessions on IHL and the ICRC's mandate for 300 civilians and members of the armed forces;
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  • arranged for 13 key representatives from the armed forces, academia and government to attend five regional and international events and training sessions.
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