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Sri Lanka: Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to assist displaced persons leaving the conflict zone

13-03-2009 News Release 09/55

Geneva/Colombo (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society met on 13 March with the Minister of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services to present a pledge concerning the response of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to the massive and urgent humanitarian needs of people displaced from the Vanni, in northern Sri Lanka.

According to the authorities, over 36,000 people have left the conflict zone since December 2008 and are living at sites in Mannar, Vavuniya and Jaffna districts. All possible measures must be taken to ensure that these people are received in a safe environment, under adequate conditions of shelter, hygiene, health and nutrition. They must also be allowed to return voluntarily to their homes as soon as conditions permit.

In the process of displacement, many families have become separated or have lost contact with relatives in other parts of the country, or abroad. The Movement offered to help them re-establish contact and reunite.

At the meeting with the minister, the Movement also offered to improve access to medical care by upgrading existing health infrastructure, providing first-aid services and mobile medical clinics, running an ambulance service and engaging in physical and psycho-social rehabilitation.

In the shorter term, the Movement will also endeavour to support the displaced population by providing appropriate living conditions through such activities as water production and distribution, sanitation and the distribution of personal hygiene kits. Authorities are expected to grant all facilities required for the deployment of the Movement's staff and assets.

For further information, please contact:
  Merrick Peiris, SLRCS, tel. +94 11 534 7000 or +94 773 688 647
  Sophie Romanens, ICRC Colombo, tel +94 11 250 33 46 or +94 777 289 682
  Simon Schorno, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 251 9302