Access route to be opened on Sunday

[TamilNet, Thursday, 05 August 1999, 12:17 GMT]
The movement of civilians and food between the LTTE controlled areas of the Vanni and SLA controlled areas is set to resume on Sunday August 8, said government officials in Vavuniya today.

The announcement follows an agreement by both sides to open up an access route to the LTTE controlled areas of the Vanni along the Vavuniya Kilinochchi trunk road (A9), said sources.

Officials said that de-mining activities along both sides of the route would commence tomorrow and continue until Saturday with ICRC officials present on both sides.

About 2500 people stranded in the SLA controlled areas and 200 people stranded in the LTTE controlled areas will be able to cross through the proposed access route, officials said.

About six truck loads of food will be sent along with the civilians on Sunday, officials said.

ganesh_k_230799.jpgK.Ganesh, the Government Agent for Vavuniya met Major General Lionel Balegalle, the Vanni security forces commander, to discuss the logistics of resuming the transport of food and civilians between the two areas.

R.Tharmakulasingam, the Government Agent for Mullaitivu, who arrived in Vavuniya this morning via Mannar also, participated in the meeting.

The access route to the Vanni through the Mannar region was closed on June 26 during a military operation in the area.

The SLA had earlier proposed the establishment of a 5 km. long demilitarised zone first on the Mankulam-Kilinochchi road and then on the Mankulam-Thunukkai road.

The Liberation Tigers had rejected the proposals, saying it was too risky for them to dismantle their defences and withdraw five miles from their present forward defence lines.

On August 4 the LTTE agreed to a demilitarised zone on the A9 highway near Mankulam between the present forward defences of the LTTE and the Sri Lanka Army (SLA).

The closure of the route led to widespread food shortages in the LTTE controlled areas of the Vanni.

rasanayagam_t_260799.jpgThe issue received greater attention after the publication of Government agent reports from LTTE controlled areas warning of the crisis that was looming due to the shortage of food.

It was then reported that the government had decided to transfer the agents for Mullaitivu, R. Tharmakulasingham, and Kilinochchi, T. Rasanayagam, out of the area.

The reason for their transfer were not known although unconfirmed reports from the time suggested that military officials might be appointed to their posts.


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