Red Cross worker killed in Sri Lanka war zone

Manjula Mathews, President of the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka (L) and Yu Hwa Li, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka (R) present Rakhil Fernando, Managing Director of Daraz (C) with Goodwill Ambassador Certificate

March 5, 2009 (AFP) – A local Red Cross employee was killed in Sri Lanka’s war zone, where troops have cornered Tamil Tiger rebels, an official said on Thursday. “One of our male workers was killed on Wednesday afternoon by shrapnel,” of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokeswoman Sarasi Wijeratne said.

Wijeratne identified the victim as Vadivel Vijayakumar, an ethnic Tamil working for the relief agency.

She said it was not clear who was responsible for the attack, but that he was killed after helping injured civilians board an ICRC ferry that was evacuating the wounded.

“Despite this unfortunate incident, the ICRC will remain in the conflict area and continue with our humanitarian work,” she added.

Since February, the ICRC has helped evacuate nearly 2,800 patients and their relatives by sea out of the island’s north-east.

The military estimates some 70,000 people still remain inside the war zone, while 36,000 civilians have sought shelter in the government-controlled areas.