(February 12, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In view of the rapidly unfolding situation in the North, the Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama met with the Head of the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) Mr. Paul Castella in order to discuss the present situation in the conflict zone and to exchange views on the difficulties encountered by the ICRC so that both sides could explore ways and means of jointly addressing the issues at hand. The Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona and Senior Officials of the Foreign Ministry were associated with the discussion.
Minister Bogollagama informed Mr. Castella that the utmost priority of the Government is to ensure the safety and security of the civilians and to look after their welfare. He commended the ICRC for the good work that is being carried out by the staff of the ICRC under trying conditions. Both sides discussed the arrangements in place to provide for the welfare and the immediate needs of the civilians as well as the injured who need medical care.
It was noted that the LTTE is continuing to hold the civilian population as a human shield.
The ICRC Head spoke of the difficulties faced by the civilians who are trapped in the conflict zone and said that it is imperative that all parties work together. He further said that there is a good understanding between the military authorities in the North, the Government Agents in the region, the Health Ministry and the other Officials who are engaged in extending protection and facilities to the civilians.
The Foreign Minster stated that the ICRC and the Government agencies should work in a spirit of co-operation and share information on the immediate requirements and needs of the civilian population and that the good relationship that exits between the Government and the ICRC should be maintained. He added that the ICRC is a responsible international agency and the Government appreciates the work carried out by the ICRC, specially at the present time.
The Foreign Minister and the ICRC agreed on the importance of maintaining a regular dialogue so that any issues or problems that need the attention of the Government could be addressed on an urgent basis.
-Sri Lanka Guardian