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  • » 09/24/2008, 00.00


    Appeal from Sri Lanka bishops on behalf of war victims

    Melani Manel Perera

    The episcopal conference decries the sufferings of the displaced, without shelter or food. And it calls upon the army and the Tamil Tigers to "respect the lives of civilians" and guarantee "humanitarian corridors" in order to move them into more secure areas.

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - Strong denunciation of the continued suffering of the thousands of refugees displaced by the decades-long conflict between the army and the Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE), in a statement from the Sri Lanka bishops' conference (CBCSL), released at the end of the meeting held on September 22.

    The document - signed by Bishop Vianney Fernando, head of the CBCSL, and by secretary general Bishop Norbert Andradi - expresses appreciation for "the efforts" made by the government to ensure "food and basic necessities to the refugees", but also recalls the condition of "thousands of people forced to live under the trees", and charges that in many cases "aid does not reach its intended recipients". "Difficulties in transporting essential commodities have resulted in fuel, food, medicine, shelter materials etc. being in short supply", the bishops say. "Education of the children has been disrupted. It was noted that as a result of aerial bombing several innocent civilians have been killed".

    The episcopal conference is calling upon the parties in conflict - the army and the LTTE - to "respect the lives of civilians", and is asking representatives of the Tamil Tigers to guarantee a humanitarian corridor "for the refugees", so that they can be transferred "to more secure areas of the country". "We plead that humanitarian laws be respected by everyone, and that institutions such as schools, hospitals and places of worship be carefully avoided in the combat".

    The bishops conclude the document by emphasizing that "lasting peace" can be reached only through a "political agreement" that recognizes "human dignity and full equality among citizens", whatever their ethnicity.

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    See also

    07/02/2009 SRI LANKA
    Situation worsens for civilians in Wanni
    About 250,000 refugees have nothing, and it is almost impossible to reach them with food. The only functioning hospital has been bombed, and its patients removed.

    27/01/2009 SRI LANKA
    Massacre of civilians, bishop of Jaffna calls for extension of buffer zone
    Hundreds of civilians dead, killed even in the "safety zone." The army and the Tamil Tigers are trading accusations. Bishop of Jaffna: the buffer zone must be extended immediately and respected, to save many lives.

    23/01/2009 SRI LANKA
    Columbo army creates safe zone for civilians fleeing war
    The head of the military in Vanni meets with the head of the Red Cross to plan access and protection of civilians in the area. Catholic and Anglican bishops express appreciation for the army's decision, and call upon the Tamil Tigers not to violate the area with attacks against soldiers and refugees.

    23/04/2009 INDIA - SRI LANKA
    Bishop of Chennai: nothing can justify the massacre underway in Sri Lanka
    Archbishop Chinnappa denounces the resignation of the international community. The Church of India prays for peace, and calls for a political solution to the conflict. "We are with the Tamils living in Sri Lanka, and those dispersed all over the world."

    19/03/2009 SRI LANKA
    Religious visit the refugees, prisoners in the camps
    A delegation from the Conference of Major Religious Superiors visits refugees in Vavuniya. They describe a dramatic situation in the account sent to the bishops, and call for an action of solidarity from the Church on the national level. It is not enough to collect food and money, missions must be conducted among the population in the north.

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