Chennai: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said in its report for the year 2011 that it had been in search of 15,780 persons reported missing from the war-affected Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Out of the 15,780, 751 were women. The actual number of missing persons from the war zone, according to the Red Cross, could well be much more because the figure of 15,780 related only to the cases referred to the ICRC for tracing.
The report said that tracing the missing persons was a major challenge because in 2010, the ICRC was asked to close down its offices in the Northern Province and function only from Colombo. Space for independent humanitarian action was “very restricted”, it revealed. Several plans for assistance to the refugees had to be cancelled, the report said.
“The Government imposed restrictions on the ICRC’s access to resettlement areas, also prevented it from carrying out planned water supply projects and for systematically carrying out any monitoring of the projects,” the 2011 report said.
However, the ICRC found a way to beat this restriction, at least partially. They effected a tie up with the Sri Lankan Red Cross Society (SLRCS). With the help of the SLRCS, the ICRC visited 17,741 Tamil detainees in 64 detention camps. And it was able to facilitate visits of family members in the case of 5,057 detainees.