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ICRC demands ‘unimpeded’ access to civilians in combat zone

[PTI, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 17:07 No Comment]

Terming the plight of civilians trapped in Sri Lanka’s shrinking combat zone as "desperate," the International Committee of the Red Cross today demanded "unimpeded" access to them.

The ICRC said its mission failed to evacuate the wounded and sick civilians from the newly-declared 2 km long civilian safe zone today due to heavy fighting and lack of security.

"Lack of security forced our ferry to stay offshore for the entire day today, only kilometres from the conflict area," said Paul Castella, ICRC’s head of delegation in Sri Lanka.

Castella said the wounded and sick, among them children and elderly people, need to be evacuated as soon as possible but the ICRC-chartered ferry to evacuate them has not been able to reach the conflict area since Saturday last week.

He said the civilians are suffering due to lack of food, drinking water and medical care.

"The plight of the people remaining in the combat area is desperate… "We need unimpeded access to them in order to save lives," said Castella.

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