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
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
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
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
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.