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Sri Lanka: ICRC activities 2005

01-12-2005 Operational Update

The following is a brief summary of ICRC activities in Sri Lanka, including its emergency relief efforts in the aftermath of the tsunami and its ongoing conflict-related operations.

 The ICRC's tsunami response  


Within hours after the tsunami hit Sri Lanka on 26 December 2004, the ICRC managed to launch an emergency operation, assisting thousands of survivors along the northeast coast of the island. ICRC teams and volunteers from the Sri Lanka Red Cross helped evacuate victims, transport the injured to hospitals, recover bodies and assist people to trace their relatives. 

Some 4,000 tents and 14,000 tarpaulins for sheltering some 25,000 people were distributed; water supplies and sanitation facilities in camps and hospitals in the northeast were quickly established; and more than 3,000 wells contaminated by debris and salt water were cleaned. The ICRC reinforced medical facilities in the northeast, sent medical teams to understaffed hospitals and distributed blankets and household kits to around 35,000 families.

In addressing the needs of tsunami survivors, the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and the many sister national societies supporting the Sri Lankan Red Cross (SLRCS) displayed the global nature reach of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. Twenty-three national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have programmes throughout the whole country.

Now that the emergency phase is over, other partners of the Interna tional Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement will continue to assist those affected by the tsunami. Throughout the disaster, the ICRC continued its protection activities in favour of the civilians affected by the conflict - visited detainees and organized training programmes in the field of international humanitarian law (IHL). 

The ICRC is also conducting community based livelihood programmes in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee districts in order to maintain a balance between those who are receiving tsunami aid and inland communities who have been made vulnerable through years of conflict.

 Current ICRC activities  


The ICRC is visiting all 22 governmental prisons, as well as detention facilities in areas under control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). At the request of the government as well as the LTTE, the ICRC is present at the Omanthai and Muhamalai crossing points on the Kandy-Jaffna A9 highway, and on the Uyilankalam crossing point on the Vavuniya-Mannar road. The ICRC delegates act as neutral intermediaries to ensure the smooth passage of civilians and goods between government and LTTE controlled territory. Over 8 million individuals and more than 200,000 vehicles have crossed the lines in 2005.

The ICRC has continued to construct and repair wells for vulnerable inland-communities in the North and the East, in addition to cleaning contaminated water sources that were engulfed by the tsunami. After the tsunami struck, the ICRC stepped up its relief and livelihood programmes throughout the northeast in order to maintain equity between the coastal areas affected by the tidal wave and the inland population that suffered econom ic consequences following the disaster.

The ICRC carries out community based health care programmes jointly with the Sri Lankan, Canadian, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Red Cross Societies, and holds regular training sessions with the Sri Lanka Armed Forces as well as LTTE cadres where the rules of international humanitarian law are explained.

 ICRC Collaboration with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society  


As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the ICRC works closely with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) in implementing various humanitarian programmes and assisting the national society to strengthen its own capacities to respond to humanitarian needs, particularly those arising from conflict. Capacity-building initiatives are aimed at assisting the Sri Lanka Red Cross to provide health and other relief assistance, to restore links between separated families, and to effectively communicate humanitarian principles and relevant aspects of international humanitarian law.

 Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Coordination in Sri Lanka  


Due to the scope and complexity of the Red Cross Red Crescent presence in Sri Lanka a unique management and coordination structure has been put into place under which each component of the Movement adheres to a common set of procedures, guidelines and policies, all of which have been agreed collectively. The ‘Movement Coordination Framework’ facilitates effective implementation of the Movement’s tsunami programmes in Sri Lanka as wel l as ensuring quality and accountability.

The Movement Platform is the policy and strategic decision making body, consisting of the SLRCS National Secretary, the Heads of the Federation Delegation and the ICRC. A Movement Task Force coordinates information sharing and approves programme concept papers. It also develops project agreements and finance management mechanisms and is responsible for human resources management.

There are also technical committees in each large programme sector: These committees define and agree programming frames, policies, technical standards, implementation guidelines and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

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