Opening A9 imperative to avoid humanitarian crisis, Bishop tells Envoys

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 17:04 GMT]
Bishop of Jaffna, Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Savundaranayagam stressed on the immediate opening of the A9 route as the only remedy for the humanitarian disaster prevailing in the Jaffna peninsula when Australian High Commissioner Greg French, Switzerland Ambassador Ruth Flint and the British Deputy High Commissioner Lesley Craig met the bishop Tuesday around 3:00 p.m at Bishop's House in Jaffna, sources in Jaffna said.

The Ambassadors and their team arrived Tuesday around 12:00 noon at Palaly airport and met with the SLA Jaffna High Commands first before leaving to Jaffna town.

Neither journalists nor photographers were allowed to the meeting at the Bishop's House which lasted for an hour until 4:00 p.m.

The Rt. Rev. Bishop urged the need for the International Countries to exert due pressure on the Sri Lanka government to open the A9 route immediately to bring an end to the humanitarian crisis in the Jaffna peninsula, sources said.

Opening the A9 landroute as a one-time only exercise, as suggested by the Sri Lanka President, is not feasible as the needs of the Jaffna peninsula people cannot be brought to them just in a day, the Bishop explained. He further told the envoys that using sea transport will prove tedious and difficult due to the current monsoon weather, and would only prolong the suffering of Jaffna residents, the sources added.

The full implementation of the Cease Fire Agreemnt (CFA) will be the most appropriate measure to stop the rising number of abductions, killings and other violations of human rights in the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) controlled area, the Bishop impressed on the Foreign diplomats, the sources said.

The Foreign ambassadors met the Government Agent (GA) of Jaffna after 4:00 p.m and discussed the current crisis in the peninsula and explored ways to remedy the situation, sources close to GA office said.

Information about the meeting expected to take place with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) authorities in Jaffna to discuss their difficulty in carrying out their duties, is not available the sources added.

The Swiss Ambassador Ruth Flint is expected to ceremoniously declare open the building complex constructed with Swiss aid at Udupidy Girls' College in Vadamardchy Wedensday.

The Foreign Ambassadors will be visiting some of the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the peninsula, the sources said. But this programme was not officially confirmed.

Closure of A9 landroute, the only trunk road to Jaffna from rest of Sri Lanka, in August, has halted the flow of essential food provisions, and medical supplies to Jaffna Peninsula, and if urgent steps are not taken, the residents will face severe humanitarian crisis, civil society leaders in Jaffna warned Monday. Jaffna residents face malnutrition and imminent starvation; and shortage of medical supplies and doctors, have wreaked havoc with the peninsula's fragile health care system, hospital and Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) sources said.


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