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Sri Lanka: ICRC deeply concerned about increasing mine casualties

15-06-2006 News Release 06/62

Geneva/Colombo (ICRC) – The number of civilian casualties caused by explosive devices in northern and eastern Sri Lanka has sharply increased in recent weeks.

A mine blew up a bus today in Kebitigollawe, a city in the north of the country, claiming the lives of at least 50 civilians, among them small children, and wounding at least 30 others.   Only last week some 60 civilians were killed as a result of at least 16 mine explosions and other violent incidents.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is deeply concerned about the worsening situation in the country and especially its effects on civilians. It calls on the parties to the armed conflict to respect the rules and principles of international humanitarian law, in particular by:

  • distinguishing at all times between civilians and fighters

  • directing attacks only against fighters and military objectives; indiscriminate acts of violence are prohibited

  • taking all feasible precautions to avoid, or at least to minimize, loss of civilian life

The ICRC has stepped up its emergency activities to protect and assist those affected by the armed conflict. On 7 June, together with the Italian Red Cross, it administered first aid to the victims of a mine explosion in Vadamunai (Batticaloa district) and brought seven severely wounded people to Batticaloa hospital for further treatment. ICRC delegates are closely monitoring the situation with a view to protecting civilians, providing health care, shelter materials and other vital supplies and responding to any other urgent needs that may arise.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Toon Vandenhove, ICRC Colombo, tel. +94-11-2503346  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24