ICRC releases half-year activity report
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 September 2002, 20:50 GMT]
"The government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam have not sought the assistance of the
International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) up to now in
opening the A9 highway for twenty hours," said ICRC
Information Officer Mr. William Sukumar Rockwood
addressing a press conference held Wednesday evening
in Trincomalee. "If such a request is made by
both parties the ICRC will consider it," said Mr.
Rockwood in reply to a question.
Mr. Rockwood said some erroneous reports appeared in
sections of the press that the ICRC is prepared to
offer its services if the A9 highway is opened for
twenty four hours.
The press conference was presided by the Head of ICRC
sub-delegation in Trincomalee Ms Lina Milner. She was
assisted by the ICRC Information Officer Mr.
Rockwood, Protection Delegate Ms Mieke Hartmann and
Mr.M.Pushparajan, Media Liaison Officer,
Outlining the ICRC activities in Trincomalee
district for first half of this year
Ms Lina Milner said that "with the signing of the
Cessation of Hostilities agreement on February 22
by the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a peace process was initiated
with the aim of finding a political solution to the
armed conflict. The ICRC has been present in Sri Lanka
since 1989 and its mandate, which is based on
International Humanitarian Law (IHL), is related to
the conflict situation and includes the transitional
period as well. Therefore, the ICRC continues in the
current context to monitor alleged breaches of
International Humanitarian Law and maintains a
confidential dialogue it enjoys with the parties to
the conflict in an endeavor to ensure a better respect
of the principles of IHL."
"During the six month period starting from January
this year, eight hundred and forty seven persons
approached the ICRC seeking assistance related to
protection of people.
The ICRC provided escort to the passenger vessel
'City of Trinco' between Kankesanthurai and Trincomalee
from August 2000 to June 2002 on 33 trips enabling
more than 22,8000 civilians to travel from the
peninsula to the south and return. This ship service
was suspended late June, 2002 after the opening of
the A9 highway,"
ICRC delegate Ms Lina Milner in her report stated.
The report further said, "109 families in
Trincomalee district received financial
assistance to visit relatives detained under the
Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency
Regulations once every three months. 28 released
detainees who asked ICRC for help were given
assistance to travel home.
"One family was reunited by ICRC in the first half of
2002. During the period under review, the ICRC in
Trincomalee carried out nine visits to permanent and
transitory places of detention. In all 91 persons
detained due to the conflict, were visited.
"The ICRC provides its neutral intermediary services
for the implementation of the North East Integrated
Agricultural Project, a World Bank funded programme
which includes facilitation of communication with both
parties to the conflict, dealing with security issues and technical
monitoring of the project. Under this programme,
rehabilitation work in 13 tanks in
Trincomalee district is being carried out. World
Bank officials evaluating the progress of the project
are regularly escorted by the ICRC. The project is
expected to have significant impact on the
agricultural economy of all ethnic groups in the
During the period under review, the ICRC in
Trincomalee district held various sessions on
International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which dealt with
the ICRC mandate, and the Law of War to the Sri Lankan
armed forces, the LTTE and to civil and medical
authorities. Of those sessions, fourteen were held in
the district for 1,525 members of the armed forces,
including a first ever session for 85 Sri Lanka Air
Force personnel. 12 sessions were also held for
religious leaders, teachers, government and
educational authorities and media personnel, states
In the sphere of health activities the ICRC in
Trincomalee conducted health clinics in eight remote
villages in the LTTE controlled areas where there are
no medical facilities.
The ICRC funds a mobile dental clinic, which is run by
the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society. This programme
provides dental care in both government and LTTE
controlled areas, states the report.