Sri Lanka: Caritas office bombed

 Bombs have injured a Sri Lankan Caritas worker and destroyed a sub office of the Catholic development organisation in the Vanni region, scene of the latest fighting between the Sri Lankan Government and the rebel group LTTE.

Vehicles and vital infrastructure were lost in the bombing which appears not to have been targeted at the office, a Caritas media release says.

"Reports from the conflict area are sketchy as communications are down and we are unable to get access to the affected area," said Jack de Groot, CEO of Caritas Australia.

"The international community has a responsibility to ensure this conflict operates under the laws of war. These laws clearly promote the clear protection of civilians and we have a situation in the North of Sri Lanka where more than 250,000 people are extremely vulnerable," said Mr de Groot.

"Caritas welcomes the call by the Government of Sri Lanka for the civilians to leave the affected areas and we call on the LTTE to ensure this is allowed to occur," said Mr de Groot.

"We know that many people in the area are very confused. The Army has encircled Mullaitivu where people have been hiding for several weeks now. These civilians are living in fear and they are receiving many mixed messages. We need time to get in to these areas and let the people know it is safe to leave and to assist those in need of urgent medical attention."

"The lack of access means we are unable to give an exact prediction of how many people are directly affected. Unless we can get access soon, this could quickly become a massive humanitarian catastrophe," said Mr de Groot.

"We hope and pray this violence comes to an end and that the helpless civilians are not further dragged into this quagmire. The solution to this long and brutal conflict which has devastated so many Sri Lankan families has to be a political one."

Caritas Australia and its international confederation repeated calls for an urgent ceasefire and access for relief workers to the hundreds of thousands of people in danger in the North of Sri Lanka.

Source: Caritas Australia

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