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  News

Holmes calls on Govt. and LTTE to avoid bloodbath

By Arthur Wamanan

UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Sir John Holmes has called upon both the government and the LTTE to avoid bloodbath as clashes in the north intensify.

Holmes made this call at a press briefing yesterday at the Government Information Department.

Holmes called upon both parties to ensure the safety of the civilians in the LTTE controlled areas and that there is a significant number of civilian casualties reported.

He called upon both parties to do ‘everything possible’ to avoid civilian casualties during the ongoing military operations.

"I fear that there are a significant number of civilians killed or injured. It is hard to say who is responsible for these," Holmes said.

Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who was also at the press briefing stated that the government had assured Holmes that civilian lives will not be compromised during the military operations carried out in the Wanni.

While welcoming the government’s efforts to send essential goods to LTTE controlled areas by sea, Holmes said the government should step up arrangements for more supplies to be transported to the region.

He also said the state should take steps to improve the screening techniques used at the crossover points in order to increase confidence of the people who flee the LTTE areas.

Minister Samarasinghe said the ICRC and the UN monitors were already present in the Omanthai crossover point, monitoring the screening processes.

Holmes also noted that there was a certain amount of fear among the people in IDP camps and added that the government should take immediate measures to provide them with temporary ID cards. Holmes also said the government should also take immediate steps to unite the IDPs with their families.

Samarasinghe said that there were practical problems in registering persons, as there were LTTE cadres who had infiltrated into IDP camps.

"There are 250 persons who had identified themselves as LTTE cadres. They are now at rehabilitation centres and are being carefully watched. There may be some others as well," Samarasinghe said.

Holmes met with President Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday and discussed the current issues in the country. Rajapakse had also assured that the civilian lives will be protected during military operations.

The UN also granted US$ 10 million for the emergency needs of the population. The UN had earlier said that it needed US$ 155 million to carry out 103 projects in the north and east for this year.

 

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