ICRC convoy reaches Vaharai with relief to Tamil IDPs

[TamilNet, Sunday, 13 August 2006, 06:59 GMT]
An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convoy of 17 trucks and four cars reached the town of Vaharai in the Batticaloa district of eastern Sri Lanka in the early afternoon on Saturday. The convoy brought food, water and other items such as tarpaulins, mats, bed sheets, cooking pots and buckets for distribution to thousands of displaced people fleeing the fighting in the Eachchilampathu area, said press release issued by the ICRC Saturday evening.

The ICRC is following with great concern the new outbreaks of violence in Sri Lanka and stands ready to assist and protect the population in need, ICRC pledged in its press release.

"The most important thing at this stage is to provide the displaced with water as quickly as possible," said Jose Manuel Ferreira, an ICRC water and habitat engineer participating in the relief operation. Thousands of people are currently displaced in several areas of the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts, living in desperate condition and unable to meet their basic needs, said the press release of the ICRC.

The latest relief operation was launched in co-operation with the International Red cross and Red Crescent Movement and other humanitarian organizations currently operating on the ground, including the World Food Programme, UNICEF, UNHCR, World Vision and the Agency for Technical Co-operation and Development, the ICRC press release adds.

Over the past four days, the ICRC and other components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have also provided displaced families in the towns of Kantalai and Kinniya with 1,160 tarpaulins, 1,137 hygiene kits (soap, washing powder, razors, bath towels and shampoo), 450 baby parcels (blankets, towels and baby powder), 130 kits essential household items (bed sheets, plates, cups, mats, kersoine cookers, lanterns, mosquito nets, cooking pots) and 130 tents. In addition, the ICRC is installing sanitary facilities and two water-distribution systems in the camps where the families are sheltering. The organization has also begun construction of a field hospital with 80 beds in Kantalai, the press release states.

About forty thousand Tamil civilians, men, women and children have sought refuge in Vaharai division following indiscriminate artillery fire and aerial bombardment by the State armed forces in the LTTE held areas in the Trincomalee district. These IDPs are sheltered in temporary structures. They have been agitating for immediate food relief and medical and drinking water facilities as the government authorities failed to provide such assistance since the fighting broke out between the SLA and LTTE, sources said.


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