UN food convoy for war displaced people enters LTTE-held areas

October 2nd, 2008 - 6:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Oct 2 (IANS) A 50-truck UN food convoy for civilians, displaced due to the escalation of clashes between the advancing government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels, has entered the rebel-held areas in the north Thursday, the UN office here said. It said that the convoy would transport and distribute food to four locations to the east of Kilinochchi, where the majority of displaced civilians “are thought to have concentrated”.

“A UN convoy carrying 650 tonnes of food crossed the Omanthai border at 10 a.m. this morning, en route to 200,000 civilians displaced behind the lines of confrontation in the Wanni,” the UN office here said in a statement Thursday.

Two weeks after ordering the UN and other non-governmental volunteer organizations to move out of the rebel-held areas for security reasons, the government of Sri Lanka last week granted permission for the UN to escort the food convoy to the rebel-held areas in the north.

“The convoy is accompanied by seven UN international staff, who would monitor the initial distribution of relief food items,” the UN said, adding that the convoy was reduced from 60 trucks to 51 after explosives and other illicit items were discovered on government-provided trucks that were due to join the convoy.

“The UN has reiterated that humanitarian convoys are protected under International Humanitarian Law, and has condemned the attempt by persons unknown to disrupt the aid effort,” the UN statement said, adding that it was planning to dispatch another convoy next week.

The military has claimed that it had found 2.5 kg of C4 explosives and 22 Global Positioning Systems (GPS) hidden inside two hired lorries carrying food for displaced civilians, when it checked these vehicles at a check point in the northern Vavuniya town Tuesday and Wednesday.

The UN is sending the food convoy amid heavy fighting and aerial bombardment in the west of Kilinochchi town, located about 350 km from here.

Ministry of defence said that Sri Lanka Air Force fighter jets Thursday “bombed the LTTE’s military headquarter complex, located 2 km northeast of Kilinochchi town.

“Defence intelligence sources revealed that the target was engaged on real time ground intelligence on a meeting of senior LTTE cadres at the location. The LTTE has maintained the targeted camp complex as its main military coordinating centre,” it said.

There was no immediate word from the rebels in this regard.

The military said last week that the troops advancing from various directions were just four kilometers away from Kilinochchi town and is determined to capture the rebels’ “administrative capital” soon.

The LTTE has been fighting against the Sri Lankan state to carve out a separate state for Tamils in the northern and eastern part of the island for the past three decades.

Thousands have died in fighting between the LTTE and the military since late 2005.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |