Thursday, February 26, 2009

France expresses interest to provide humanitarian assistance

During a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama today (26 February 2009), French Foreign Minister Dr. Bernard Kouchner expressed his happiness at the conflict in the North of Sri Lanka coming to a conclusion and inquired on how best humanitarian assistance could be extended by France. He also expressed concerns at the civilians being held hostage in the conflict area.

Minister Bogollagama explained the manner in which the LTTE had been shifting the civilians as and when the areas were cleared from their hold, and at present being confined to a strip of land with the civilians being used as human shields. He also outlined the ICRC’s support in the delivery of humanitarian services including the evacuation of the sick. The Minister also pointed out that the access of government agencies to the uncleared area had been hindered by the LTTE.

On inquiry by the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister with regard to the envisaged humanitarian assistance from France, Minister Kouchner shared the possibility of making available the services of the French Red Cross. Minister Bogollagama opined that such assistance would be useful and the two Ministers agreed to further discuss the related modalities with regard to the French offer.

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