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Aid workers complete pull-out

LTTE prevents some local employees from leaving Wanni :

Vavuniya: Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said yesterday that the withdrawal of men and material by United Nations and other aid groups from Wanni was almost complete and the effort shown by these groups in response to Governmentís request to relocate in Vavuniya considering safety reasons was very encouraging.

Although all foreign nationals had reached Vavuniya before the agreed deadline of September 29, some local workers attached to a few organisations had been prevented by the LTTE from doing so, the Minister added.

While noting that most of the equipment these organisations possessed had been brought to Vavuniya according to preliminary reports, the Minister stressed that the authorities were perusing detailed descriptions of logistics provided by them to get a more clearer picture.

The Minister said that the NGO and INGO groups had given him a detailed report with regard to items brought to Vavuniya and ones they had left behind.

Ones which have been left behind has been mentioned in these reports as either given to respective GAs to facilitate humanitarian needs or disabled to prevent from being put to military use by the LTTE. However there were reports regarding some stolen equipment as well in these reports the Minister added.

The Government allowed these equipment to be taken to these areas purely on the understanding that these would be used to facilitate humanitarian needs and not otherwise, the Minister said while adding that reports by aid agencies would be compared with an inventory which Authorities possessed to verify details.

Observing that these groups would continue their humanitarian assistance and development programmes in the region directing operations from Vavuniya the Minister added that their role was to purely complement the efforts of the Government.

The Minister also noted that the Government had taken all measures to ensure safety and wellbeing of the civilians living in non-liberated areas, with Vavuniya being geared as a humanitarian assistance hub to help IDPís.

In addition around 60 lorries consisting of food and other essentials are expected to reach Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu within the week with UN representatives acting as witnesses to distribution the Minister said while stressing that the process would continue on an assessment basis.

The Minister said that the relocation process started following a request by the Defence Secretary on September 8 asking them to re-locate to Vavuniya due to security and safety concerns of the humanitarian workers in the face of ongoing military operations.

While noting that the whole exercise had been done in a systematic and professional manner the Minister said that all authorities had asked for was transparency and accountability which the agencies had agreed without any conditions.

He further added that at a recent meeting with the UN, NGO and INGO groups the Defence Secretary had asked for a detailed report regarding their ongoing and completed humanitarian assistance and development work in order to facilitate continuity.

The report had been completed and was due to reach the Minister by yesterday he added while noting that this would lead to a better understanding between the two parties in addition to strengthening existing ties.

These organisations would be given all assistance to continue their work unhindered by directing operations from Vavuniya the Minister said.

However the ICRC would continue to extend its presence in the non-liberated areas to facilitate humanitarian needs, he added.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
srilankans.com - news & information
Donate Now | defence.lk
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka

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