Sri Lankan talks should address humanitarian strife: ICRC

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

GENEVA, Oct 26, 2006 (AFP) – The international Red Cross on Thursday called on the warring parties in Sri Lanka to discuss humanitarian strife during their face-to-face talks in Geneva, after fighting in recent months left nearly 3,000 dead and forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes. “We think humanitarian issues could figure on the agenda and should be addressed during the upcoming talks here in Geneva,” said Reto Meister, delegate general for Asia at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Sri Lankan government officials and senior representatives of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam arrived in the western Swiss city ahead of their Norwegian-brokered talks, which are due to begin Saturday.

More than 201,800 Sri Lankans have fled their homes, mainly in the north and east, while another 15,800 have fled across the sea to Tamil Nadu state in southern India, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

The ICRC said the situation had also worsened for those who had been displaced by previous rounds of fighting in three decades of conflict, as well as for those displaced by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

“I think the situation as it is is pretty disastrous and has very severe consequences on civilians,” Meister told AFP.

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