Caritas: Tragedy in Sri Lanka Not Improving

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, FEB. 25, 2009 ( Violence plaguing 250,000 civilians trapped in Sri Lanka’s conflict zone is reaching its peak and possibilities of a political solution are fading, the Caritas aid agency is warning.

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The aid agency called the situation an “unprecedented human tragedy” and lamented that civilians are dying due to “indiscriminate bombing by both the army and rebels.”

The civilians are trapped in the last corner held by the rebel Tamil Tigers as 25 years of conflict to gain a separate Tamil nation has reached its bloody head.

The Sri Lankan government has the Tigers holed into some 100 square miles, part of which has been designated a “safe zone” for the civilians. But aid organizations say the civilians are being wounded, either by the Tigers or the government or both, and are urging that they be released from the combat zone altogether. Meanwhile a food crisis is ongoing, as aid groups are unable to get convoys into the area.

Caritas’ statement Tuesday said that “civilians do not have access to security, with safe havens for people who have been forced from their homes providing inadequate protection.”

It also affirmed that in addition to the scarcity of food, there is a lack of drinking water and waterborne diseases have been reported.

Caritas urged humanitarian access to the camps and reiterated their appeal launched last year for close to $2.5 million to provide 100,000 people affected by the conflict in Sri Lanka with access to shelter, relief supplies, education, livelihoods, water and sanitation, medical and social assistance and counseling.

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