Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: ICRC personnel return to crossing points

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Colombo/Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has decided that its personnel will resume their presence at Omanthai and Uyilankulam crossing points, in Vavuniya and Mannar districts respectively, for three days a week effective today. The decision was announced in Colombo by Toon Vandenhove, the ICRC's head of delegation.

The organization had withdrawn from the crossing points on 22 May for security reasons. In discussions with the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) over recent incidents jeopardizing the safety of civilians and ICRC personnel, the ICRC obtained the security guarantees it needed to resume its tasks.

Under the 2002 ceasefire agreement, it is the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE that decide if crossing points will be open or closed. The ICRC's presence serves as a confidence-building measure between both parties to the conflict in the best interest of civilians. So far this year, an average of 25,000 persons have passed through the crossing points each month.

The ICRC had been present on a daily basis since 2002. Although its presence at the crossing points will now be reduced to only three days a week, it remains ready to ensure the safe passage of ambulances transporting the sick and wounded whenever necessary.

For further information, please contact:

Davide Vignati, ICRC Colombo, tel. +94 11 250 33 46 or +94 77 728 96 82
Carla Haddad, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26
or visit our website: www.icrc.org