Sri Lanka truce monitors seek more manpower, kit

May 25, 2006 (AFP) – The Scandinavian truce monitoring mission in Sri Lanka wants to boost its numbers by at least 25 percent and is outfitting observers with flak jackets and helmets, the mission said Thursday. The request for additional personnel comes after the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said the lives of its observers had been endangered in a May 11 sea battle off northern Sri Lanka.

Ulf Henricsson, the head of the SLMM, has asked the five contributing Nordic nations to fund an additional 15 monitors “and then depending on the situation possibly another 25,” SLMM spokeswoman Helen Olafsdottir told AFP.

The mission currently has 60 members, including administrative personnel, working from six district offices, Colombo headquarters and from a liaison office in rebel-held Kilinochchi town.

They are supervising a four-year-old truce brokered by Norway which the SLMM has said is now in force only on paper.

Mounting violence has killed more than 600 people since December, according to an AFP tally.

“We really need more people so that we can do the job,” Olafsdottir said.

She did not know how long the contributors — Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland — might take to appr