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ICRC provides hygiene and health-related items to detention centres

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has concluded another round of emergency distributions amond detention centres. The items so distributed included reusable masks, PPE kits, chlorine, soap and other hygiene items for the use of inmates and personnel of prisons, police stations and an immigration centre.

“People who are detained are likely to be more vulnerable during a medical emergency of this scale. We adapted our activities at the start of the pandemic and we are in coordination with prison authorities ever since”, said the head of the ICRC delegation in Sri Lanka, Loukas Petridis. “We are committed to continue supporting the detaining authorities to ensure humane conditions and dignified treatment to all detainees in such challenging times”, concluded Loukas Petridis.

The ICRC also donated fabric and accessories to the Department of Prisons to produce reusable masks for detainees. Over 30,000 reusable masks have been produced so far, out of the 40,000 planned in total. In the coming weeks, the ICRC delegation will also support a pilot project for online phone calls for detainees. The calls will allow detainees to maintain contact with their loved ones, amidst the administrative restrictions that have been put into place.

Since March 2020, the ICRC, in coordination with the Ministry of Health, supported the efforts of the Sri Lankan detaining authorities to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading amongst the detainee population. It has provided health and hygiene items and disinfection material that has benefited almost 33,000 people in over 23 prisons, a prison hospital, five police stations and the Mirihana Immigration Detention Centre.

The ICRC has been visiting detainees in Sri Lanka since 1989. Worldwide, detainees are at the center of the ICRC’s humanitarian action and addressing their needs and concerns remains a key priority.

Key FACTS & FIGURES since March 2020

Over 30000 beneficiaries in 23 prisons island-wide were supported with 74,100 bars of body soap and laundry soap, 18,500 toothbrushes and 16,000 tubes of toothpaste, 9650 razors, 1755 mats and 1800 sanitary pads. 1.550 Kg of Chlorine and cleaning items for disinfection were distributed. PPE, 36950 surgical masks, 5750 FFP2 masks, 18,000 gowns, 18,000 surgical caps, 1560 face shields, 41400 gloves, 172 goggles were distributed, mainly to prison health staff, and 5000 re-usable masks were provided to other administrative personnel.

Over 250 beneficiaries in five police stations in Colombo, Tangalle and Vavuniya were supported with chlorine, 1000 bars of body soap and laundry soap, 595 each of toothbrushes & toothpaste, 740 surgical masks, 185 mats, 20 sanitary pads and cleaning products.

100 beneficiaries at the Immigration Detention Centre in Colombo were provided 40 litres of chlorine, 10 sanitizers, 470 bars of body soap and laundry soap, 170 each of toothpaste & toothbrushes, 20 mosquito nets and 250 surgical masks.

 Sixty six chief jailors and jailors from the Department of Prisons participated in a training on prison standards.



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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