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Sri Lanka: ICRC closes its offices in the north

25-03-2011 News Release 11/68

Colombo (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has closed its office in Vavuniya after the Sri Lankan government requested the organization to run its operations exclusively from Colombo. Vavuniya was the last ICRC office in the north of the country, as the office in Jaffna had already closed at the end of February.

"In its role as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC worked with the parties to the conflict to protect and assist the victims of the fighting, for example by facilitating the movement of medical services and the transfer of human remains," explained Romain Cachemaille, the outgoing head of the Vavuniya Office.  "The ICRC also visited prisoners to assess their conditions and, working with our partners in the Sri Lankan Red Cross Society, assisted people injured or displaced in connection with hostilities."

The ICRC has been working in the Vavuniya area since 1989, when it first opened an office in Anuradhapura to help people affected by the security situation. In 1997, the ICRC established a permanent presence in the town of Vavuniya. Over the years, the organization extended its work to the surrounding districts of Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Mannar.

The ICRC will continue working with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS), to respond to remaining humanitarian needs from the past conflict in Sri Lanka.

More particularly, the ICRC will continue to support beneficiaries of the Red Cross Family Visit Programme, which allows families to maintain links with relatives in custody. Here again, the ICRC is working in partnership with the SLRCS, particularly its branch in Vavuniya.

For further information, please contact:
Sarasi Wijeratne, CICR, Colombo, tél: +94 11 250 33 46 ó +94 773 15 88 44

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