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Sri Lanka: ICRC temporarily withdraws from Uyilankulam crossing point but boosts aid

07-09-2007 News Release 07/100

Colombo/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) decided on Monday 3 September to temporarily withdraw its employees from Uyilankulam crossing point.

“The ICRC’s decision comes in the wake of a deterioration in the security situation in the area, jeopardizing the safety of civilians and ICRC personnel at the crossing point,” says ICRC head of delegation Toon Vandenhove. The organization is maintaining its presence at Omanthai crossing point in Vavunia district, northern Sri Lanka.

The ICRC is currently discussing the security situation with both parties to the conflict in order to obtain the security guarantees it needs to continue facilitating the smooth passage of civilians and goods between areas controlled by the government of Sri Lanka and those controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Meanwhile, the ICRC is assisting newly displaced people who over the past week abandoned their homes to flee the fighting between the Sri Lankan Security Forces and the LTTE in Mannar district, north-western Sri Lanka. Together with the Sri Lanka Red Cross society (SLRCS), the ICRC has already provided 1,300 of these displaced people, currently sheltering in Nanattan school and Don Bosco school in Murunkan, with 330 hygiene kits and 1,000 mats. A further 430 displaced people sheltering in Rasool Puthuvely and Pallankoddai villages, Nanattan Division, were provided with 250 hygiene kits, 80 mosquito nets, 80 tents 30 baby parcels, 80 kitchen sets and 80 sets of essential household items.

The ICRC wishes to remind both parties to the conflict of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law, in particular to ensure the protection of the civilian population and the safe passage of civilians fleeing conflict areas.

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