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11 February 2009

The Commissioner General of Essential Services S. B. Divaratne yesterday said that though the ground situation did not permit a food convoy to reach civilians trapped by the LTTE amidst the heavy fighting, the Government is counting on the WFP to take a convoy to a safe zone in Suganthipuram area of Udayarkattu somehow this week. He said that despite the LTTE having heavily mined the area beyond Pudukudirruppu, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was extremely concerned that a WFP food convoy should be dispatched without delay.


10 February 2009

Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on Monday said the casualties caused by the LTTE were under-reported and urged some of the international agencies to be mindful of the responsibility cast on them in disseminating information. He was talking to heads of the UN agencies based in Colombo at a meeting convened by Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama. [...] The Foreign Ministry said the objective of the meeting was to discuss all issues of mutual interest regarding the protection of civilians in the conflict zone. The UN Resident Coordinator along with the Representatives of UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and the Chief Security Advisor of the UN Office in Colombo were present.


8 February 2009

More than 10,000 Sri Lankan civilians have fled in the past few days from rebel-held territory in the north, the government says. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse called on the Tamil Tigers to let thousands more civilians leave and then unconditionally surrender. [...] Aid agencies - most recently the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) - continue to remain concerned about the plight of thousands of civilians who it is feared are trapped between the two sides.


8 February 2009

Hundreds of sick and wounded people are stranded in a makeshift hospital in war-wracked northern Sri Lanka, the Red Cross said Saturday as it urged the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to let the patients out of the conflict zone. Meanwhile, the military said 14 rebels, including two leaders, were killed Friday in an air force raid on rebel positions. The chief of the rebel sea wing has been reported missing and could be among the dead. The makeshift hospital in Puttumatalan village is the only medical facility available in the region after the war zone's last hospital in Puthukkudiyiruppu was forced shut after being shelled for days in attacks the Red Cross said left at least 12 people dead and 30 wounded. [...] The United Nations warned Friday of a food crisis in the conflict zone, saying World Food Program stocks in the area were gone.


8 February 2009

After more than 25 years of bloodletting, the government's war with ethnic Tamil separatists appears to be in its final stages in the north of the country. Last week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa predicted that the war was just days from ending, and one of his senior ministers said that the military campaign was in its "mopping up" stages. [...] Emilia Casella, a spokeswoman for the UN World Food Program (WFP), said the remaining civilian population in the war zone is facing a food crisis. Some 250,000 people there are completely dependent on humanitarian aid, but the WFP has not been able to get a supply convoy into the conflict zone since January 16. A convoy that was supposed to enter during a four-hour "humanitarian window" on Thursday could not go because the agency did not receive the necessary clearance from government officials.


6 February 2009

The United Nations warned Friday that civilians caught in the shrinking sliver of territory still controlled by the rebels are facing a massive food crisis, and convoys may not be able to deliver supplies until late next week. [...] Adding to concerns, the World Food Program said that the entire population of the Vanni is facing a food crisis. They are completely dependent on humanitarian aid, but WFP said it has not been able to get a supply convoy into the conflict zone since Jan. 16. A convoy that was supposed to enter during a 4-hour "humanitarian window" Thursday could not go because the agency did not receive the necessary clearance from government officials, Emilia Casella, a spokeswoman for the agency in Geneva, told reporters. The earliest they would be able to send in another convoy is next Thursday, she said.


6 February 2009

The Sri Lankan president promised to safeguard civilians caught in the war between the government and Tamil rebel forces, as the UN warned on Friday that the entire conflict zone was facing a massive food crisis. The humanitarian crisis was building as the military continued its relentless offensive, which has almost routed the Tamil Tigers and virtually ended their 25-year war for a separate Tamil nation in this Sinhalese-majority country. [...] Emilia Casseli, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program in Geneva, said that the entire population of the Vanni was facing a food crisis. About 250,000 people there are completely dependent on humanitarian aid, but the food program has not been able to get a supply convoy into the conflict zone since Jan. 16, she said. A convoy that was supposed to enter during a four-hour "humanitarian window" on Thursday could not go because the agency did not receive the necessary clearance from government officials, she said.


4 February 2009

The Co-Chairs of the Tokyo aid conference -Norway, Japan, the US and EU - yesterday called on the LTTE to lay down arms and discuss with the government the modalities of ending hostilities to avoid further civilian casualties. Jointly expressing their great concern about the plight of thousands of internally displaced persons trapped by fighting in northern Sri Lanka, the Co-Chairs called on the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka not to fire out of or into the no-fire zone established by the Government or in the vicinity of the Puthukudiruppu hospital (or any other medical structure), where more than 500 patients are receiving care and many hundreds more have sought refuge. They also call on both sides to allow food and medical assistance. [...]Minister Abeywardena charged that the LTTE continued to launch shell attacks into the no-war zone. He said the military had agreed to open the Oddusudan check point for the smooth flow of relief items, and this would help the World Food Programme to send essential items with the assistance of the UN. The government has a buffer stock of 8,000 tonnes of essential supplies in Vavuniya to be sent to the Wanni.


3 February 2009

The United Nations has expressed concern over the shelling of a hospital in northern Sri Lanka, the scene of heavy fighting between the army and the LTTE, emphasising the ever-increasing threat to the lives of some 250,000 civilians trapped in the region. Gordon Weiss of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the hospital, in the north-east of the island nation, was shelled numerous times on Sunday, resulting in the killing of 11 people altogether, including one nurse. [...] The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is trying to negotiate a new convoy out of the area and into Government-controlled territory, where the patients can be treated properly, Weiss said. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme is continuing negotiations with the Government to secure an adequate window for the next humanitarian convoy into the area, though no convoy has gotten in since last week


28 January 2009

UN Says that they will attempt to evacuate a convoy of critically Injured From Puthukkudiyiruppuri to Vavunia. On Tuesday, the government said the covoy of over two hundred patients were stopped by the Tamil Tigers. [...] Military statement also said that the ICRC and UN officials contacting military authorities have reported that those patients on sixteen ambulances, seven World Food Programme (WFP) trucks and another vehicle were being held, detained and prevented from entering cleared areas by gun-carrying LTTE men who have had heated arguments with ICRC and UN officials over non-release.