ICRC asked to make suitable entry/exit point shift
COLOMBO: The Defence Ministry has officially made a request
from the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) to find a suitable
location to shift the sole Entry-Exit point and cross loading point
between the uncleared areas and the cleared now functional at Omanthai,
to a place closer to Oddusudan, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
told the Daily News last night.
“We made this request officially from the ICRC this week as we
believe that there is no point of having the entry-exit point there in
Omanthai as there are no LTTE presence in the Omanthai area at present,”
the Defence Secretary added.
Defence Secretary Rajapaksa met an ICRC delegation this week along
with Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka to officially convey this
”The ICRC also agreed with the point made by us and to find a
suitable location to shift the Entry Exit point further north”, the
Defence Secretary added.
The Defence Ministry made this request from the ICRC after the Sri
Lanka Army 56 Division operating in Omanthai cleared the LTTE defence
line in Omanthai last week.
According to sources, the Omanthai Entry Exit point will be shifted
to the South of Oddusudan on the Nedunkerni – Oddusudan road as almost
all areas between Mankulam and Oddusudan has been cleared by the Special
Forces and Commando troops operating there, though the area has not been
dominated by the troops.
Sources also added that only a handful of LTTE cadres were present at
the Omanthai entry- exit point during the past few days.
The Security Forces Headquarter in Wanni on Wednesday changed opening
hours of the Omanthai Entry-Exit point from 9 am to 1 pm to expedite the
process of sending vehicles to accelerate the movement of vehicles and
passengers within a shortest possible time frame.
However, the ICRC temporarily halted their operations at the Omanthai
Entry-Exit point since Wednesday over concerns about the security of the
ICRC representatives there.
Army Commander Lt. General Fonseka who visited the Wanni Security
Forces Headquarters, instructed Major General Jagath Jayasuriya,
Commander, Security Forces Headquarters, Wanni (SFHQ-W), to explore
possibilities of dispatching of essentials into uncleared areas in
single lineup convoys, once or twice a week, instead of regular fleets
of vehicles throughout the week in consultation with ICRC officials.
According to Army headquarters the directive in this regard came
subsequent to ICRC officials’ reluctance to man the Omanthai Entry/Exit
point as usual after the SFHQ-W decided to keep the Omanthai opening
hours only between 9.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. from Wednesday onwards, in
view of several concerns and intensification of humanitarian operations,
progressing away further north to the gateway.
The Army Commander advised Wanni Commander Major General Jayasuriya
to seek services of the ICRC escort for those lined-up food convoys to
be taken in one fleet.
Although the ICRC has not so far showed up for manning the gateway,
its ambulances and other vehicles executed their emergency medical
services across the point in the past 48 hours, the Commander was told.