ICRC outlines work in war zone

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 April 2001, 19:08 GMT]
"The present conflict should come to an end if the displaced living in camps and welfare centers in the Trincomalee district to return to their own villages", Mr. Daniel Shriber, Head of the Delegation of the International Committee of Red Cross in Trincomalee told a press briefing Wednesday. Answering a question he added, "The ICRC is not in a position to provide adequate security for resettled people in Kuchchaveli, Thiriyai villages in the north of Trincomalee district.

Sri Lankan security personnel will not prefer resettlement of the displaced at this juncture. Only bringing the conflict to an end can create a conducive environment for the resettlement", said Mr. Shriber.

The press conference was held at Trincomalee Seven Island Hotel.

ICRC Delegate addressing Sri Lanka Army personnel. (Photo:TamilNet)
Associated with Mr.Shriber at the conference, were the Protection Delegate of the ICRC, Muttur sub office Ms Dagmara Dzik, Press Officer, Mr.Harasha Gunawardene, and Dissemination Officer for Trincomalee Mr.M. Pushparajan.

"In 2000, 18,430 passengers were transported, up and down, between Trincomalee and Jaffna peninsula with protection provided by the ICRC in 33 voyages by the vessel 'City of Trinco'. This humanitarian service is being carried out according to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the ICRC. The ICRC also obtained security assurances from both the LTTE and the security forces", said Mr. Shriber.

(Left to Right) Ms Dagmara Dzik, Protection Delegate, ICRC's Muttur office, Mr.Harasha Gunawardene, Information Officer of the ICRC Headquarters, Mr.Daniel Schriber, Head of the Delegation of the ICRC in Trincomalee and Mr.M.Pushparajan, Dissemination Officer of the ICRC in Trincomalee. (Photo:TamilNet)

Mr.Daniel Shriber further said, "As a promoter of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the ICRC strives to increase knowledge and adherence to these rules by conducting dissemination sessions primarily to combatants, but also civilians. The ICRC takes advantage of these sessions to present its mandate, principles and activities in order to facilitate the work of its personnel and to facilitate its access to all the victims of conflict. In 2000, nineteen sessions were conducted for over 1634 combatants of the Sri Lanka Army, Navy, Police and Home guards and twenty-three sessions were held for 1802 civil authorities and teachers. In addition to the dissemination sessions of the government forces, 5000 booklets and 150 posters explaining basic rules for behaviour in combat (IHL) were distributed to the Security Forces in Trincomalee. They were elaborated jointly by the Directorate of Humanitarian Law of the Sri Lanka Army and the ICRC".

ICRC Delegation Head in Trincomalee Daniel Shriber addressing Sri Lanka Navy personnel in Trincomalee. (Photo:TamilNet)
"The North East Irrigated Agriculture Project (NEIAP) commenced this year in Northeast province, with the contribution of ICRC as neutral intermediary for the establishment of climate of confidence to enable implementation of the proposed project, in accordance with the agreement that has been signed accordingly between the ICRC and World Bank. It included facilitation of communication with both parties to the conflict, security aspects and technical monitoring of the project".

Mr.Daniel Shriber said, "Under this project, during the first half of 2001 fourteen tanks will be rehabilitated in 8 divisions of the Trincomalee district (Gomarankadawela, Kuchchaveli, Kantale, Kinniya, Morawewa, Thambalagamam, Eechilampaththai, Mutur and Trincomalee town and gravets".

Mr.Harasha Gunawardene, Information Officer of the ICRC in Colombo, addressing the conference said, "ICRC delegates visited 1,893 detainees in 377 detention centres throughout Sri Lanka last year. The conditions of detention centres improved after such visits by the ICRC delegates".

"Ten security personnel and eight seamen are now held by the LTTE. Of the 10 security personnel nine are SLA soldiers. Of them seven were captured by the LTTE in the 1993 November Pooneryn army camp attack. Two soldiers were captured in the Janakapura (Weli Oya) camp attack in July 1993. The solitary Sri Lanka Navy officer is Captain Boyagoda captured in 1994. Furthermore eight crew are also held in LTTE's custody. Of them four are crew of the vessel 'MV Missen' and the rest are from the vessel 'Princess Cash'. This year 26 detainees were released by the LTTE through the ICRC. Of them three were sailors and a soldier. The rest were fishermen and farmers captured by the LTTE", Mr.Gunawardena said.

Mr.K.P.Richard (crew member of the vessel MV Iris Moana) of Trincomalee who was one of the three sailors released by the LTTE on 7 April reunited through ICRC with his wife and children after almost five years. (Photo:TamilNet)
Referring to the visits by ICRC delegates to prisons in Sri Lanka, Mr. Daniel Shriber, "In 2000, ICRC delegates made 87 visits to 10 permanent and transitory places of detention in the Trincomalee district. 222 detainees were visited by the ICRC of which 187 were seen for the first time and 447 detainees were revisited".

He added, "After these visits, the delegates regularly report their findings to the detaining authorities. These confidential reports contain ICRC's own assessment and it recommends, whenever necessary, improvement in the treatment of detainees and in the conditions of detention".

Referring to the traced persons reported missing by their relatives in Trincomalee Mr. Shriber said: "During the period under review, 16 tracing cases were opened by the ICRC in Trincomalee and Mutur, and out of then 7 have been traced. The ICRC continues to pursue the 9 cases to obtain replies. About 2,415 persons met ICRC delegates and sought assistance and protection last year. In the areas affected by the conflict, the ICRC reminded all parties to the conflict of their obligations under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to respect and protect under all circumstances, the civilian population, the wounded and the captured".

The City of Trinco (Photo:TamilNet)


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