GENEVA - August 10 -
Fighting continues between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam in the town of Muttur in the east of the country. Civilians are still attempting to flee the town and numerous families have taken shelter in various colleges.
Poor security conditions and the uncertain situation on the ground have so far prevented the ICRC from reaching Muttur. It has therefore been impossible to assess needs in the town and to carry out relief operations for those caught up in the fighting.
Internally displaced people are currently gathered at 45 sites across the Trincomalee district and their growing numbers are giving cause for concern. People are pouring into Kantale and the surrounding area at an increasing rate. The main camps in Kantale are seriously congested and there is little room for new arrivals from the conflict zone.
Emergency assistance for the displaced
On 6 August an ICRC convoy reached the area south of Muttur and evacuated around 400 displaced people from the conflict zone to Trincomalee.
The ICRC is presently working in three of the eight camps in Kantale, which shelter 22,179 displaced people in all. It is also working in Kinnya, where there are 1,678 displaced people, and Trincomalee (2,828 displaced people). Yesterday it visited Seruvilla, where it confirmed the presence of nearly 10,000 displaced people in two different camps.
The ICRC has so far failed to reach Vakarai and other locations where displaced people are reportedly gathering.
Since last Friday the ICRC has distributed 387 essential household items, 1,895 hygiene kits, 1,895 tarpaulins and 931 baby parcels to 2,000 displaced families (10,000 people) as a first step towards meeting their needs. Most of these supplies were distributed in Kantale, the rest in Trincomalee and Kinnya.
Water and sanitation
Covering the urgent water needs of the displaced poses a great challenge. Hygiene in the makeshift camps also raises serious concerns. At this stage, the ICRC has decided to focus its work in the camps on solving these two problems.
Over the past week 22 temporary latrines have been built and two water-distribution systems have been completed in Kantale. Two 5,000-litre water reservoirs (bladders) have also been installed there, along with two tap stands equipped with six taps each for easy use by the displaced. In addition, two 1,000-litre water tanks have been made available for the latrines.
The ICRC trucked water into the Kinnya camp today and distributed it to the residents. It also equipped the designated washing areas with proper drainage.
Sri Lanka Red Cross Society
In Kinnya, the Sri Lanka Red Cross distributed 520 hygiene kits supplied by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies along with 1,700 cooked meals and 1,700 food parcels paid for by the Hong Kong Red Cross.