ICRC brokers bus service

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 24 August 1999, 23:27 GMT]
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Trincomalee is awaiting for a response from the Sri Lanka Army to recommence the bus service to Mallikaitheivu, a Tamil village in the LTTE-controlled area in the Muttur division, said the ICRC Health Delegate Mr.Christopher Cliffe at a press conference held this morning.

"The bus service to Sampoor, a Tamil village in the Muttur area has commenced due to the mediation by the ICRC with the Sri Lanka Army and the Liberation Tigers. The Sampoor village is in the area controlled by the Tamil Tigers. Now, the people of Mallikaitheivu have made a request to the ICRC to take steps to recommence the bus service to their village which is also in the area controlled by the LTTE.

ICRC officials visit a detainee at a prison run by the special police force in Akkaraipattu:.Photo:Thierry Gassmann /ICRC
"The ICRC approached the Sri Lanka army. The army authorities asked the ICRC whether they could guarantee for the safety of the bus service. The ICRC could not give any guarantee in this regard. Therefore the ICRC approached the Liberation Tigers who in turn has guaranteed the safety.

"Now the ICRC has forwarded the response to the Sri Lanka army. We are awaiting a reply from the Sri Lanka army in this regard," said Mr.Cliffe.

The press conference was held at the Trincomalee Seven Islands' Hotel, presided over by Mr.Louis Grasveld, Officer-in-Charge of the ICRC, Trincomalee office.

Mr.Harsha Gunawardene, Information Officer attached to the ICRC's head office also attended.

Mr.Louis Grasveld, Officer-in- charge of the International Committee of the Red Cross said today that from January to June this year the ICRC delegates were able to visit 36 detainees in various detention centres in the Trincomalee district for the first time.

Altogether 76 detainees were visited by the ICRC delegates during the six-month period, he said.

He added that the ICRC visits regularly four police stations and a remand prison in the Trincomalee district.

The ICRC visits persons detained in connection with the conflict and attempts to prevent enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture. Such visits also aim to assess the psychological and material conditions of detention and to give the detainees the opportunity to write Red Cross messages to their relatives.

This year, from January to June, the ICRC was able to locate 16 persons after their families opened tracing requests for them. During this period, the ICRC in Trincomalee collected and distributed 17 Red Cross messages to detainees and 34 to civilians, said Mr.Louis Grasveld.

An ICRC chartered vessel "Java Gulf" has transported 927 patients from Jaffna to Trincomalee and vice-versa from January to June this year, said Mr.Louis Grasveld.

This vessel 'Java Gulf' provides a vital link between the Jaffna peninsula and the rest of the country.

During the six month period the ship carried 653 metric tonnes of cargo and 4504 mail bags to and from Jaffna and Trincomalee, he added.


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