ICRC cuts back Sri Lanka operations after government order

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (L) and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe gesture as Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake (unseen) presents a supplementary budget to parliament, marking the first economic policy statement of the new government which came to power earlier in the month in Colombo on January 29, 2015. Sri Lanka's new government announced hefty taxes on top companies in a bid to raise revenue, accusing the previous regime of fudging the figures and leaving the economy in a "sad state". AFP PHOTO / Ishara S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

July 20, 2009 (AFP) – The Red Cross on Monday announced the closure of four offices in Sri Lanka following a government order to foreign aid agencies to scale down operations. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said its four offices in the embattled eastern province were closed at the weekend.

“The ICRC reaffirms its commitment to meet the humanitarian needs of those directly or indirectly affected by the recent conflict,” the Geneva-based organisation said in its statement.

It said offices in the Akkaraipattu, Batticaloa, Muttur and Trincomalee areas in the eastern province were shut. The statement did not mention ICRC operations in the north where there are some 300,000 war-displaced civilians.

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said earlier this month all international relief agencies, including the Red Cross, had been asked to scale down operations following the defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The ICRC handled, among other things, the swapping of dead bodies of combatants and also manned entry and exit points from the rebel-held territory before it was finally overrun by government forces in mid-May.