TRO appeals for SLMM, ICRC access to Vaharai

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 December 2006, 12:48 GMT]
Pointing out that "over 30 shells have landed close to the Vaharai Hospital in the past few hours and 6 TRO Camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the area have received direct hits from shells resulting in 17 deaths, including a 6 month old baby, and 67 injured," Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), in a press release issued from its Colombo office Sunday, appealed to the Humanitarian Organizations and the International Community to pressure Government of Sri Lanka to allow access to the ICRC and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) to the Vaharai area.

Full text of the press release follows:

TRO is making an urgent appeal to the International Community and International Humanitarian Organizations to pressure the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to allow access to the Vaharai area for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Over 30 shells have landed close to the Vaharai Hospital in the past few hours and 6 TRO Camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the area have received direct hits from shells resulting in 17 deaths, including a 6 month old baby, and 67 injured.

The Vaharai area has been under continuous land, air and sea bombardment by GoSL armed forces for the past 24 hours and the Sri Lanka Army are preventing critically injured civilians from being transported to hospitals in government controlled areas of Batticaloa.

TRO aid workers and Medical staff are attempting to transport the injured via boat to hospitals in Batticaloa but fear for the safety of the injured. The bombardment is continuing and the GoSL forces refuse to give permission for the evacuation of civilians.

The GoSL forces have also denied the ICRC and the SLMM (the “Cease Fire Agreement” monitors) access to the area.

The 6 TRO IDP camps are schools which are being used to house some of the 45,000 IDPs in the Vaharai area. The IDP camps are in close proximity to the Vaharai Hospital. Over 7,500 IDPs are currently gathered in the hospital premises in an attempt to escape the bombardment.

TRO aid workers in Vaharai state that over the past 24 hours there have been 27 deaths and 67 injuries.

TRO requests that:
  • the GoSL immediately allow the injured to be transported via ambulances by the ICRC to hospitals in the Batticaloa district.
  • The GoSL and ICRC declare and respect that IDP camps are “Zones of Peace” and not military targets.
  • SLMM, ICRC, and/or the UN be allowed to have unhindered access and allowed an overnight presence in the Vaharai area to be an “independent 3rd party witness to events.
  • Allow food, medicine and non-food relief items (NFRI) to be transported to the 45,000 plus IDPs in the Vaharai area. Only one convoy has been allowed to Vaharai since 30 October 2006. 30 of the trucks carrying food in that convoy were not allowed by the SLA to proceed across the border to Vaharai.


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