Sri Lanka: violence threatens tsunami work

 A recent outbreak of violence in Sri Lanka is slowing down tsunami reconstruction work, according to Christian Aid. On 26 June a suicide bombing killed a top Sri Lankan general and three others near a military base outside Colombo. Two weeks earlier a bus was blown up killing more than 60 civilians. The government blamed the attacks on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which wants a separate Tamil state. The Tamil Tigers deny any responsibility. In response the Sri Lanka government ordered retaliatory air attacks in eastern Sri Lanka. These incidents are a serious threat to the fragile ceasefire agreement between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government which has been in place since 2002. The deterioration in security has affected Christian Aid's tsunami rehabilitation and long-term development work in the Tamil-dominated north and east of the country. Rehabilitation work of local organisations funded by Christian Aid, particularly house reconstruction, has slowed because of the increased tension. Access to some areas has become limited because of roadblocks and curfews and Christian Aid staff and partners are not able to move in parts of the north and east as easily as before. The problem has worsened in recent months. Anthony Morton-King, Christian Aid's Tsunami emergency manager said both sides must return to the negotiating table. "The affected areas are already among the most poor and vulnerable in Sri Lanka and the violence is having a huge impact on the lives of civilians," he said. "We urge both sides to return to peace talks in order to bring an end to the violence." In 2002 the government and the Tamil Tigers signed a ceasefire to end Sri Lanka's 20-year civil war which had cost 65,000 lives. "A return to all-out conflict would seriously threaten the ability of local and international aid agencies to continue their rehabilitation and reconstruction work," said Mr Morton-King. The tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in December 2004 devastated much of its coastline, including in the north and east where Christian Aid has a large tsunami reconstruction programme. Christian Aid is also working in the south of the island on tsunami rehabilitation and long-term development work. Source: Christian Aid

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