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    » 01/27/2009, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Massacre of civilians, bishop of Jaffna calls for extension of buffer zone

    Melani Manel Perera

    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.

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - Massacres of hundreds of civilians in Sri Lanka, while the violent clashes continue between the army and rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are continuing to give ground. Thomas Savundaranayagam, the bishop of Jaffna, has issued an anguished appeal to the president for the extension of the "safety zone," and protection for the civilians.

    Two days ago, the army entered into the port of Mullaittivu, the last major city controlled by the LTTE, and the violent clashes have continued. The government says at least 170 civilians have died, and more than 720 have been hospitalized, but today local sources say that there are at least 300 dead, with "corpses abandoned and injured people, incapable of moving, lying everywhere." The two warring parties are exchanging accusations over the deaths. There are at least 250,000 civilians in the area of the fighting, trapped between the two armies and the jungle. But many have also died in the buffer zone.

    In response to the massacre, Bishop Savundaranayagam today issued an appeal to the two armies, urging them "to pay careful attention to the security zone," if they want to avoid "more and more deaths."

    Two days ago the bishop, in a letter to the president, warned that the "safety zone" created in the western part of Mulaithiyu is not sufficient, because "it is a small area, and cannot accommodate the large number of people going there." "Priests and sisters who are with the refugees," he continued, "have told me that the people are seeking shelter in the churches in the eastern part of Mullaittivu," outside of the buffer zone. This must be extended "as soon as possible," he concluded, "in order to save as many lives as possible."

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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.

    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.

    24/09/2008 SRI LANKA
    Appeal from Sri Lanka bishops on behalf of war victims
    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.

    12/12/2008 SRI LANKA
    In the future of Caritas, commitment to peace and reconciliation
    Fr. Oswald B. Firth, the former director of the charitable Catholic institution, hopes for a greater commitment to the renewal of Sri Lankan society. At the 40th anniversary of its foundation, he calls upon Caritas to support peace between the Tamil Tigers and the army: "people are exhausted with the war."

    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."



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