On the eve of elections in Sri Lanka, the church is calling on politicians to find an end to the war. They say the people of Sri Lanka are longing for a lasting peace and wish to say no to the bloody war that has cost tens of thousands of human lives. In a joint statement, CAFOD and their partners Caritas Sri Lanka (SEDEC Social Economic Development Centre) and the local Church say the 30-year war can be stopped if the political leaders have courage. Parliamentary elections on 10 October are crucial for the future of Sri Lanka. SEDEC says peace will come if the elections are used as an opportunity for promoting peace within Sri Lanka. The general secretary of the Sri Lankan Bishops' Conference, Bishop Malcolm Ranjith said: "It is the duty of the Sri Lankan political leaders, the international community, and especially the donor community to Sri Lanka to spell out different solutions for peace. In the forthcoming general elections, it will be crucial that the election platform affirm the fundamental principle of equality of all citizens. This has to be truly effective at all levels, especially in the recruitment to the public sector, and in the fields of administrative service, education, health." The past 30 years of war have left deep scars in society. More than a million people have been internally displaced and are living in inhuman conditions in refugee camps; more than half a million are living in exile outside Sri Lanka. Children are being deprived of their fundamental rights for basic education and have no access to health facilities. At least 60,000 people have lost their lives in the war. Malnutrition is escalating, especially in the refugee camps. About one billion US dollars is spent every year for nurturing the war. This cripples the global budget and undermines other vital expenses. Bishop Ranjith says, "No lasting solution can be reached by war and violence. Immediate steps should be taken towards a cessation of all hostilities between the warring factions, and an effective dialogue to solve the festering ethnic problem, which is fundamentally political, should be initiated."
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