ICRC says committed to serve IDPs as fighting escalates
Food, shelter, clean water, sanitation and, above all, security remain the most urgent concerns of the tens of thousands of displaced civilians living in LTTE-controlled areas in the north of the country, said Anthony Dalziel, ICRC deputy head of delegation in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Dalziel, in an ICRC monthly news bulletin, also says that as fighting between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the North of Sri Lanka continues, large numbers of people continue to flee eastwards leaving Kilinochchi for Mullaitivu district, often leaving their personal belongings behind.
"The situation in the Vanni is evolving daily and the ICRC is committed to staying close to those in need of humanitarian assistance. With the agreement of the Government of Sri Lanka, we are continuing our activities for the Vanni population from our offices in Puthukkudiyirippu where we have maintained an operational presence since 1997", said Dalziel.
"While security remains a concern we are in daily contact with the Sri Lankan security forces and LTTE which allows us to obtain the necessary security guarantees to be present and carry out our work in the field", he added.
The bulletin also says:
In an effort to help meet some of these needs, the ICRC, with the help of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society distributed relief items in September to over 4,500 people in the Karachchi and Oddusuddan areas. Among the items were hygiene kits, baby-care parcels, mosquito nets and emergency household kits. Tarpaulins were distributed to provide temporary shelter. Also in September, the ICRC repaired over 20 wells and built dozens of toilets.
Although the ICRC has not been involved in the distribution of food to the population in the Vanni, it supports the relevant stakeholders in their efforts to provide food and other essential supplies to the affected population. The ICRC's presence at Omanthai crossing point as a neutral intermediary facilitates the passage of food convoys, the civilian population and their vehicles, between the Government and LTTE controlled areas.
In coordination with local officials, the ICRC has been closely monitoring the health situation for any outbreaks of malaria or water-borne diseases as the monsoon rains approach. Many Vanni health-care units that previously treated patients had to relocate to safer places and moved alongside the population. They continue to provide medical care for the displaced.