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Sri Lanka: ICRC deplores attack on civilians

09-11-2006 News Release 06/124

Colombo/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deplores the tragic loss of life and the injury to civilians resulting from the shelling yesterday of the densely populated area of Kathiraveli, a coastal hamlet north of Vakarai, where several thousand internally displaced people had sought shelter.

An ICRC convoy of six ambulances, a bus, a truck and three cars reached Vakarai hospital, to which the dead and the wounded had been brought, and transferred 69 serious cases to Valiaichchenai hospital, a better equipped facility in the government-controlled area. A second ICRC convoy returned to the area today to deliver aid to civilians there.

With fighting continuing between the Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the eastern district of Batticaloa, the ICRC reminds the parties to the conflict of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law. In particular, it urgently calls on the parties to ensure that the civilian population is respected and protected in all circumstances, in accordance with the principle of distinction between civilian and military targets and thus avoiding indiscriminate attacks. They must also take all feasible precautions to protect civilians under their control against the effects of attacks by the other side. Finally, the ICRC urges the parties to respect the freedom of movement of internally displaced people.

The ICRC has been active in Sri Lanka since 1989, in particular in the north-east of the country, acting as a neutral intermediary, protecting and assisting the civilian population, visiting detainees, restoring contact between members of separated families and promoting international humanitarian law.

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