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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09COLOMBO374 2009-04-01 12:37:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

Northern Sri Lanka SitRep 44

Tags:   PREF MOPS PHUM PGOV PREL ASEC CE 
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O 011237Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9719
INFO AMEMBASSY ATHENS 
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 
AMEMBASSY DHAKA 
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 
AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 
AMEMBASSY OSLO 
AMEMBASSY TOKYO 
AMCONSUL CHENNAI 
AMCONSUL MUMBAI 
AMCONSUL TORONTO 
USEU BRUSSELS
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 
USMISSION GENEVA 
HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
DIA WASHINGTON DC
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
SECDEF WASHDC
CDRUSARPAC FT SHAFTER HI//APCW/APOP//
CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J3/J332/J52//
					  UNCLAS COLOMBO 00374 

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SCA (BOUCHER), SCA/IS AND PRM
STATE ALSO PASS USAID
AID/W FOR ANE/CA, DCHA/FFP (DWORKEN, KSHEIN)
AID/W FOR DCHA/OFA (MORRISP, ACONVERY, RTHAYER, RKERR)
ATHENS FOR PCARTER
BANGKOK FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA (WBERGER)
KATHMANDU FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA AND POL (SBERRY)
GENEVA FOR RMA (NKYLOH, NHILGERT, MPITOTTI)
USUN NEW YORK FOR ECOSOC (D MERCADO)
SECDEF FOR OSD - POLICY
PACOM ALSO FOR J-5

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF MOPS PHUM PGOV PREL ASEC CE
SUBJECT: Northern Sri Lanka SitRep 44

Ref: A) Colombo 368 B) Colombo 361 C) Colombo 360 D) Colombo 357
E) Colombo 351 F) Colombo 342 G) Colombo 329 H) Colombo 321 I)
Colombo 320 J) Colombo 316 K) Colombo 310



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The U.N. now reports 3937 civilians killed and
more than 9000 injured since January 20. 78% of those killed were
in the safe zone. The U.N. has received reports that the Army has
fired on escaping civilians. The planned food aid shipment to the
safe zone has been delayed. UNHCR issued a press release welcoming
GSL initiatives to release IDPs with special needs while pointing
out areas that needed improvement. The GSL has agreed to establish
IDP camps away from Vavuniya. UNHCR reports 57,412 new arrivals to
GSL territory since November 2008. End Summary

"Safe Zone" Only in Name


--------------------------





2. (SBU) The U.N. reports that 3937 civilians have been killed and
over 9000 injured from January 20 to March 31. Of those killed, 78%
(3085 out of 3937) were in the GSL declared safe zone. The UN
estimates that approximately 7600 of the 9000 wounded were in the
safe zone as well. NGO local staff still resident in the Vanni
reported aerial bombing within the safe zone on March 30. The staff
reported that jets dropped 4-5 bombs on three separate occasions.

SLA Firing on Civilians
Escaping LTTE Territory


--------------------------





3. (SBU) During a March 31 coordination meeting with Diplomatic
Missions and International Organizations, UN officials present
relayed reports they had received from serving soldiers and officers
on leave from the front that soldiers had fired on escaping
civilians. According to the reports the soldiers remain concerned
about suicide bombers disguised as civilians fleeing the conflict
zone and had orders to use their own judgment when escaping
civilians might pose a threat. As a result of these loose rules of
engagement soldiers, at times, had fired on civilians fleeing the
conflict area. Post is attempting to set up a meeting with the
source of these reports to verify their validity.

Food Aid Shipment Delayed


--------------------------





4. (SBU) UNICEF and UNHCR reported that the planned departure of the
cargo ship "Dublin" with 1000MT of food aid and other material was
delayed last night (March 31). The U.N. hopes to get clearance for
the ship to depart tonight (April 1).

UNHCR Welcomes Positive
Developments at IDP Sites


--------------------------





5. (U) UNHCR issued a press release on March 31 welcoming GSL
initiatives to start the process of releasing IDPs with special
needs (371 elderly persons have been released to date). The
statement also noted that the GSL was beginning the process of
facilitating visits by relatives of IDPs to the sites. While
praising certain GSL initiatives, UNHCR also called for unhindered

access at the Omanthai screening center, greater freedom of movement
for IDPs and the demilitarization of camps in Vavuniya and Mannar.
Additionally, UNHCR called for the prompt registration of camp
residents to speed their release to potential host families. (Note:
the government is currently in the process of registering and
providing ID cards to the IDPs. Minister for Human Rights
Samarasinghe stated on March 31 that once camp residents were
registered freedom of movement for IDPs would improve. The Minister
also publicly confirmed that the Ministry of Resettlement had taken
over from the Army management of the camps.) UNHCR reports that the
number of new arrivals to GSL-controlled territory since Noveber
2008 now stands at 57,412.

GSL Agrees to stablish IDP
Camps Away from Vavuniya


--------------------------





6. (SBU) In an important brakthrough, the GSL has agreed to the
longstanding UN and donor suggestion that it allow IDP camps to be
established away from Vavuniya. The head of a local NGO who
attended a March 30 meeting with Basil Rajapaksa briefed the Embassy
that Basil had agreed to allow Sewalanka to build a new camp for
IDPs in Pulmoddai, the same town where India has a medical team
providing care for wounded and sick IDPs coming out of the safe
zone. The initial camp capacity will have shelter for 2,000
families. Rajapaksa also was amenable to suggestions for additional
camps o be established in Mannar and potentially Madhu, near Mannar.
UNHCR will fund these camps with help from Norway. (Comment: the
GSL has resisted suggestions to allow camps away from Vavuniya,
probably to maintain some military control over the camps. But
serious overcrowding in Vavuniya, shortages of water, and steady
donor pressure convinced the GSL to relax its restrictions. These
new camps will also be further from the paramilitaries operating in
Vavuniya and thus less vulnerable to possible threats from them.)

High-Profile LTTE Casualties


--------------------------





7. (U) The military announced that the LTTE leader's son Charles
Anthony was injured in an Army attack north of Puthukudiiruppu (PTK)
today (April 1). The military, citing intercepted LTTE
communication, also announced that the LTTE's technical wing chief


S. Kirupakaran alias Madivalahan was confirmed killed following a
confrontation with Sri Lankan security forces at the Mullaitivu
battlefront recently.

Civilian Casualties and IDP Outflow


--------------------------





8. (SBU) Sources from within the LTTE-controlled area report 46
civilians were killed and 118 injured on March 31. (Note: Such
reports from Tamil sources cannot be confirmed and are frequently
exaggerated.)

BLAKE