TITLE=U-N-H-C-R / SRI LANKA (L-ONLY)
INTRO: The U-N Refugee Agency, U-N-H-C-R, says it is
negotiating a local cease-fire in northern Sri Lanka's
Madhu area to enable thousands of displaced people to
return to their villages. Lisa Schlein in Geneva
reports the cease-fire is being negotiated with the
help of local religious groups who are sheltering
civilians who have been displaced by fighting between
the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan government soldiers.
TEXT: The refugee agency says it managed to deliver a
convoy of food aid and shelter material to thousands
of displaced people in Madhu on Sunday.
It says aid workers were able to reach the besieged
civilian population after negotiating an agreement
granting limited humanitarian access to Madhu. The
agreement was sealed after talks with both Sri Lankan
authorities and Tamil Tiger rebels.
U-N-H-C-R spokesman Jacques Franquin says this was the
first time aid has reached Madhu since November 21st.
That is when intensified fighting in the area left 40
/// FRANQUIN ACT ONE ///
Our purpose is not to interfere in this war,
but, at least to have access to the civilian
population. This means that what we have now
negotiated with the authorities and the Tamil
Tigers was to be able to cross the front line
and to bring humanitarian assistance to people.
/// END ACT ///
Mr. Franquin says the refugee agency was forced to
withdraw its staff and close its office in Madhu after
the November 21st attack. He says about 10-thousand
people have sought refuge in a Madhu church complex.
And he says conditions at this overcrowded church
facility are abysmal.
/// FRANQUIN ACT TWO ///
Access to water and sanitation is extremely
difficult, and that's why we are negotiating now
to be able to allow those people to return to
their villages, which are on the front line. So
we are negotiating now a kind of cease-fire
which would allow people to return.
/// END ACT ///
Mr. Franquin says until it becomes possible for the
displaced people to return home, it is important that
aid workers be allowed to bring them food and other
relief supplies on a regular basis. (Signed)
30-Nov-1999 11:02 AM EDT (30-Nov-1999 1602 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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