Talks about passenger service between Trincomalee and Jaffna

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 08 February 2000, 12:32 GMT]
The International Committee of Red Cross is having talks with the Defense Ministry, Sri Lanka Navy, the Liberation Tigers and the shipping firm concerned in connection with providing escort to the proposed passenger line service between Trincomalee and Jaffna, the spokesman for the organisation, Harsha Gunawardene said at a press conference held on Monday evening at the Batticaloa ICRC office.

The talks in this regard are still continuing, with no decision having been made yet, he added.

The new Delegate of the ICRC in Batticaloa Mr.Jean Nicholas Pietter, former Delegate Mr. Christoph Hartmann and Information Officer Mr.S.Umakanth attended the press briefing.

Mr.Gunawardene, in reply to a question, said that the ICRC was not playing any role as facilitator or mediator in the ethnic issue as its policy did not permit it to do so.

The only role the ICRC could play between the two warring parties was of a messenger by exchanging messages between them.

Mr. Gunawardene reminded those present that the ICRC helped the two warring parties in 1994 too by aiding the exchange of messages between them. In that instance the ICRC successfully helped the Peoples Alliance Government led by President Chandrika and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to agree to a cease- fire, he said.

He said that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) had refused permission to start eye and dental camps in the Tiger controlled areas since August last year. "We are now having talks with the authorities concerned in this regard. But we have not yet received any positive response from the SLA," said Mr. Gunawardene.

During 1999 the ICRC handed over 65 bodies of LTTE cadres to the Liberation Tigers. 06 bodies of soldiers were handed over to the SLA. 3308 civilians contacted the ICRC last year and sought information about their families and relatives in the war torn areas, he said.

Mr.Gunawardene further said that complaints were made to the ICRC last year regarding 259 disappeared persons. The ICRC was able to trace 229 persons in detention centers and prisons. Their relatives were informed of this. The ICRC was unable to trace the remaining 37 disappeared persons.


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