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Press Releases, 5/12/2009

Finland grants humanitarian aid to those suffering from the conflict in Sri Lanka

Press release 131/2009
12 May, 2009

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen has granted EUR 500,000 of humanitarian assistance to civilians suffering from the conflicts in Sri Lanka. The assistance will be channelled for the operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, via the Finnish Red Cross.

The immediate reason behind the resolution is the rapidly deteriorated humanitarian situation in the Vanni district, in the northern parts of Sri Lanka, where the fighting between the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers has been escalating continuously. The hostilities have claimed more than 5,000 civilian lives over the past three months. It has been estimated that almost 100,000 civilians are still trapped in the land strip controlled by the Tamil Tigers. The Tamil Tigers have been accused of using civilians as human shields. In spite of the pleas from the international community, the Government has continued to shell the area.

More than 50,000 civilians have succeeded in making their escape from the area held by the Tamil Tigers. Besides being threatened by gunfire and violence, the inhumane conditions in the Government-run refugee camps holding already more than 200,000 displaced persons also constitute a threat to these people.

Since September 2008, the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, has been the only agency capable of relief operations in the area, since the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamil Tigers have prevented any other operators from delivering assistance. In ICRC’s operations, the protection of the civilians holds the highest priority, and the organisation strives to improve the conditions on refugee camps by, for instance, distributing drinking water and handing out toiletries, kitchenware and protective supplies. The Finnish Red Cross takes part in the relief operations in Sri Lanka as ICRC’s partner.

Additional information: Director Ulla-Maija Finskas, Unit for Humanitarian Assistance, tel. +359 9 1605 6225 and Special Advisor to the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ossi Martikainen, tel. +358 9 1605 6306



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Updated 5/12/2009

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