2nd Lead (Corrections)

HALO Trustís vehicles burnt in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Thursday, 24 June 2004, 12:21 GMT]
Several vehicles belonging to the ĎHalo Trustí in Jaffna were burnt or damaged by unidentified men in the early hours of Thursday, police officials in the northern town said. The Halo Trust is a British demining charity engaged in mine clearing activities in Jaffna

Around 20 vehicles were damaged by the hooded gang which entered the organizationís office around 2.30 a.m., sources said.

The reason for the destruction of the vehicles is not known.

But several people who had worked for the organisation told Reuters news agency that workers were not allowed adequate breaks or given reasons for dismissals, and were not properly compensated for injuries related to their demining work.

More than hundred people are employed by the organization in the de-mining in several parts of the peninsula, sources in Jaffna said.

An official of the Halo Trust said de-mining activities of the group have come to a halt following this incident.

Officials of ĎHalo Trustí Friday morning lodged a complaint at the Jaffna Police and later to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in Jaffna and to the Jaffna District Political Secretariat of LTTE regarding the incident.

The Halo trust is one of the worldís largest demining organisations. It began operating in Sri Lanka following the 2002 cease-fire between government forces and the Tamil Tigers.

The Halo Trust's funding comes from various government's including those of Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Japan, Canada, as well as private donations, British press reports say.

The charity was famously endorsed by Princess Diana in 1997shortly before her death.

But the Halo Trust ran into controversy in 2000 after the Russian government said its staff working in Chechnya were collecting information for British intelligence, charges it denied.

 

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