Sri Lanka: 25 years of humanitarian action

The ICRC has been working in Sri Lanka since 1989. Initially, we were helping people affected by the uprising of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in the south, later assisting those affected by the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north and east. Today, we continue to help people affected by past conflict, but are also promoting international humanitarian law among the Sri Lankan armed forces, the authorities and academics.

The boundaries and names shown, and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the International Committee of the Red Cross.


  • Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, 2006.

    Returnees release young fish into water tanks to make fishing possible again. This activity was part of the ICRC's efforts to help people start supporting themselves again when they returned home after the conflict.



    Sri Lanka, 2005.

    The ICRC and the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society help families separated by the 2004 Tsunami to re-establish contact. At this time, the ICRC also distributed hygiene items, kitchen utensils, mats, buckets, and temporary shelters, and rebuilt health facilities that had been destroyed.



    Kiran, Batticaloa, eastern Sri Lanka, 2007.

    An ICRC technician installs a water supply system in a camp for internally displaced persons. In addition to water systems, the ICRC built temporary shelters and sanitation facilities in the camp.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / D. Sansoni


    Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 1998.

    Staff provide health care at a mobile clinic. During the conflict, the ICRC operated mobile clinics for people who could not reach conventional health facilities.



    Detention centre, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, 1997.

    ICRC staff talk to a group of detainees during a visit. The ICRC has been visiting places of detention in Sri Lanka since 1989.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / T. Gassmann



  • Uyilankulam, Mannar, Sri Lanka, sometime between 2002 and 2006.

    Civilians cross the no-man's land separating government and LTTE-held areas. This was one of several crossing points where the ICRC was present, acting in our capacity of neutral intermediary.



    Sri Lanka, 1998.

    A father and child receive a Red Cross message from a family member separated from them by the conflict. Red Cross messages help families separated by conflict to stay in touch.



    Sri Lanka, 2012.

    A man receives a transport allowance so he can visit a detained relative.



    Sri Lanka, 2014.

    This man, disabled as a result of the past conflict, is now earning a living from poultry farming. The ICRC is also providing livelihood support for vulnerable households headed by women, households that are extremely economically vulnerable, and people previously detained in connection with the conflict.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / S. Worthington


  • Kebethigollewa, Sri Lanka, 2007.

    The ICRC is providing temporary shelter, clean water and farming equipment so that people can resume their livelihoods after they were displaced following an attack.



    Sri Lanka, 2004.

    An ICRC employee gives a presentation to members of the armed forces on respect for the principles of international humanitarian law. As of 2015, this work continues.


  • Mahara Prison, Sri Lanka, 2014.

    Building toilets. The ICRC builds or renovates prison infrastructure to improve the living conditions of detainees.



    Sri Lanka, 2013.

    Police undergo training on community-oriented public order management and the use of force and firearms. The ICRC supports the Sri Lanka Police Department with this type of training and with training on international human rights law.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / S. De Silva


    Sri Lanka, May 2014.

    The South Asia Teaching Session (SATS). This regional forum is one of many ways in which the ICRC helps the authorities, armed forces, police, academics, and civil society enhance their knowledge of international humanitarian law.

    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / C. Jayawardena