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Omanthai entry/exit point to be reopened

COLOMBO: Omanthai entry/exit point will be reopened for the civilian movement today after being closed for almost two weeks.

Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe addressing a news conference held at the European Commission Delegation office yesterday said he decision was taken after ICRC officials discussed with the defence ministry.

The ICRC submitted two proposals to open the Omanthai entry/exit point. “The ICRC officials submitted two proposals to the Government to open the entry point for civilians. The first proposal was the entry point would be opened three days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The second proposal was to open it for three hours six days a week,” he added.

The Minister said the Government agreed to open the entry point on the basis of the first proposal - three days a week. “The government agreed to open the entry point immediately and the ICRC officials will submit the proposal to the LTTE to take their agreement also. The entry point will be opened tomorrow or within 48 hours,” he added.

The government and bilateral donor group signed a set of 10 guiding principles for humanitarian and development assistance in Sri Lanka, Minister Samarasinghe said.

“The principles are internationally recognized and already valued all around the world. They are working in the reconstruction of country people effected by tsunami and ethnic conflict. Theses principles are recognised under humanitarian law,” he added.

The Minister also emphasized that these principles will ensure transparency and countability and national security interest.

The guiding principles are intended to reassure the people of Sri Lanka about the constructive and professional approach underpinning our work in Sri Lanka.

They show the commitment by donors and their implementing partners to give aid impartially to provide humanitarian and development help to citizens in need, not to fuel conflict or terrorism, Head of Delegation European Commission Julian Wilson said.

“The principles commit donors and agencies to share information with government and the public about their work,” he added.

“The guiding principles also underline the conditions required to enable donors and their implementing partners to work, such as having access to all people in need to provide help and receiving security needed to carry out our work,” Wilson remarked.

These principles were not invented or negotiated for Sri Lanka specifically. They are internationally accepted norms for aid work. They are enshrined in the international code of conduct of the NGO’s and Red Cross/Crescent Movement. They are also found in the each donor’s founding statutes.

“Minister Samarasinghe attended the signing ceremony with the donors,” he said.

The donor countries that signed the guiding principles are Australia, Canada, European Commission, Germany, Greece, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, UN and USA. All NGOs and other implementing partners funded by the these donors, such as UN and World Bank, are committed to follow these guiding principles.

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