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Sri Lanka : Mortal remains returned

10-05-2001 News Release 01/18

Over a three-day period from 28 to 30 April, the ICRC acted as a neutral intermediary in the transfer of the mortal remains of 64 Sri Lankan Army personnel killed in the latest round of fighting between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  The bodies were handed over to the ICRC by the LTTE in the Wanni area, from where they were taken south across the lines dividing the warring parties and handed over to the military authorities in Vavuniya. On 30 April, the bodies of 10 LTTE combatants were handed over to the ICRC by the Sri Lankan Army on the Jaffna peninsula and taken across the Jaffna Lagoon for transfer to the LTTE in Pallikudah.

As it does in other countries, the ICRC in Sri Lanka uses its neutral status to return the mortal remains of combatants and civilians when asked to do so by the parties concerned. Since the beginning of 2000, it has so far transferred the remains of 273 Sri Lankan security forces personnel and 334 members of the LTTE.

The ICRC has been present in Sri Lanka since 1989. It currently has 52 expatriates and 342 Sri Lankan staff based at its delegation in Colombo and in its 12 offices in the north and east of the country.