12/20/2006, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Bishops meet defence minister, call for peace

by Melani Manel Perera
In a meeting with Maithripala Sirisena, representatives of the Bishops’ Conference call on the government to sent food relief to Jaffna. They also want to know what happen to Jim Brown who disappeared four months ago. The government reiterates its commitment to a negotiated settlement with the rebels.


Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka’s Catholic bishops have met the country’s Mahaweli Development Minister and Acting Minister of Defence, Maithripala Sirisena, to brief him on the tragic situation of people living in the north-east—where clashes between the army and Tamil separatists continue—faced with shortages in essential items.     

According to a press release signed by Mgr Vianney Fernando, chairman of the country’s Bishops’ Conference, the minister talked about the state of the peace process and reiterated his government’s commitment to reach a negotiated solution with the rebels of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

For their part, the bishops vented the possibility that international observers, including a delegation from the International Red Cross, might travel to the Jaffna peninsula with food and relief material.

In the press release, the Sri Lankan Church also renewed its request that a serious inquest be launched into the fate of Fr Jim Brown and his assistant. Both disappeared back in August

The national media reported yesterday that hundreds of civilians are fleeing LTTE-controlled areas for army-held areas. But crossing the frontline is dangerous and many have lost their lives or just “disappeared”.

In this year alone, renewed fighting between the army and rebels has killed more than 3,500 soldiers, rebels and civilians. The civil war has been raging for the past 20 years and more but in 2002 a cease-fire was reached. However, at present it is seems to exist only on paper.

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