Aid workers to complete pull-out by Sept 29
Humanitarian assistance to be continued from Vavuniya:
COLOMBO: Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda
Samarasinghe said yesterday that the United Nations and other aid groups
re-commenced their pull- out from Kilinochchi and were expected to
complete the re-location process in Vavuniya by September 29.
However the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) would
continue its presence in the area to help the needy, the Minister added.
He said these groups would continue their humanitarian assistance and
development programmes in the region directing operations from Vavuniya.
While re-iterating the Government’s commitment in assuring safety and
wellbeing of the civilians living in non-liberated areas, the Minister
said all measures were afoot to make Vavuniya a humanitarian assistance
hub to help an exodus of IDPs due to military operations in Kilinochchi
Following a brief halt to the movement of men and material by UN
agencies, the effort re-started yesterday which was relayed by the UN
resident representative, the Minister added.
The Minister said the process started following a request by the
Defence Secretary on September 08 asking them to re-locate to Vavuniya
due to security and safety concerns of humanitarian workers in the face
of military operations
The Defence Secretary had articulated the Government’s position the
Minister said, adding that the authorities also had agreed to a request
by aid agencies to extend the withdrawal deadline to September 29
The Minister said he was confident that the re-location process would
be completed as expected by the 29th. However the ICRC was an exception
and would continue to extend its presence in the affected areas to
assist the needy the Minister said.
He said at a meeting with UN, NGO and INGO groups, the Defence
Secretary had asked for a detailed report regarding their ongoing and
completed humanitarian assistance and development work to facilitate
These organisations would be given help to continue their work
unhindered by directing operations from Vavuniya, he said.
Strict orders have been relayed to security forces and Authorities to
make safe passage for civilians fleeing the non-liberated areas and make
all arrangements for their safety and wellbeing.
UN staff withdrawn
The United Nations pulled its staff out of uncleared areas yesterday.
“All expatriate and local staff who are not from Kilinochchi and
Vavuniya have been moved out,” UN spokesman in Colombo Gordon Weiss told
reporters. He did not say how many staff were withdrawn in total.