Sri Lanka violence hampers aid work

 An escalation in violence between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka is placing people in danger and threatening tsunami reconstruction and long-term development work of agencies including CAFOD and Christian Aid. Partner organisations in the worst-affected area of Trincomalee, in the east of the country, have been unable to carry out any work for the past few days because of the volatile security situation. Yesterday there were reports of people fleeing their homes in eastern Sri Lanka as the military shelled Tamil Tiger targets. The strikes followed a suicide attack on the army headquarters in Colombo on Tuesday which killed at least eight people and injured the army chief. "The escalation in violence is threatening the ability of humanitarian agencies to continue with their tsunami rehabilitation and long-term development work in the north and east of the country," said Ivan Kent, Christian Aid's Sri Lanka programme manager. "These are areas that are already among the most poor and vulnerable in Sri Lanka and the violence is having a huge impact on the lives of civilians." Partners in Batticaloa, also in the east, and Jaffna in the north, have been able to carry out some of their work but are being hampered by the tense situation. Aid agencies are appealing to both sides to return to peace talks in order to bring an end to the violence. Even before the latest flare up, the eastern coastal belt was increasingly becoming more insecure making humanitarian work more difficult and dangerous. In 2002 the government and the Tamil Tigers agreed a ceasefire in an attempt to end Sri Lanka's 20 year civil war that has cost 65,000 lives. The tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in December 2005 devastated much of its coastline, including in the north and east where there are large tsunami reconstruction programme. Agencies also working in the south of the island on tsunami rehabilitation and long-term development work. On the first anniersary of the disaster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor visited many projects sponsored by CAFOD.

Share this story