Sri Lanka

Red Cross / Red Crescent officials meet with Sri Lankan president in Geneva

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Geneva/Colombo - Senior officials of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement met in Geneva this morning with the president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapakse, to seek information on action taken by the Sri Lankan authorities after the murder of two staff members of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society earlier this month. The meeting was organized at Mr Rajapakse's request.

The vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jacques Forster, and the secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Markku Niskala, expressed their concern about the killings. They welcomed the Sri Lankan government's commitment to investigate and bring the perpetrators quickly to justice.

The murdered staff members, Sinnarasa Shanmugalingam and Karthekesu Chandramohan, had been in Colombo attending a training workshop organized by the Sri Lanka Red Cross. On 1 June they were abducted from Colombo's Fort Railway Station by unidentified men while waiting to return to their homes in the eastern town of Batticaloa. Their bodies were found the following day at the Dumbara Estate in Kiriella, Ratnapura district, south-east of Colombo.

Mr Forster and Mr Niskala again emphasized the need for increased action on the part of the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure that humanitarian workers are respected and protected and that humanitarian agencies are supported in their efforts to assist vulnerable people in Sri Lanka.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement remains committed to providing assistance and protection for those affected by the armed conflict and to helping communities devastated by the 2004 tsunami to rebuild their lives.

For further information, please contact:

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Carla Haddad in Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26
Davide Vignati in Colombo, tel. +94 11 250 33 46 or +94 77 728 96 82
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Matthew Cochrane in Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 44 26 or +41 79 308 98 04
Patrick Fuller in Colombo, tel. +94 11 452 86 98 or +91 77 350 21 54
or visit our websites: www.icrc.org and www.ifrc.org