07/29/2009, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Sri Lankan government asks Caritas for assistance to help 10,000 refugees

by Melani Manel Perera
The Catholic charity is now helping 83,000 war victims. In order to cope with the new request it will use funds from donations the Pope put aside for humanitarian aid.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – The government of Sri Lanka has asked Caritas Sri Lanka for assistance in helping 10,000 more refugees living in camps located in the northern part of the island.

The secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Relief Services made the request for emergency assistance to the Catholic charity in order to provide immediate help for internally displaced persons (IDPs) concentrated in camps in Jaffna, Vavuniya and Trincomalee.

With this request the number of refugees in the care of Caritas-SEDEC rises to 83,000.

Caritas will deal with the new situation by using funds from donations the Pope put aside for humanitarian aid.

In the meantime the controversy surrounding the present conditions of thousands of refugees continues unabated after fighting between the Sri Lankan military and Tamil Tigers rebels ended two months ago.

Human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) published an open letter yesterday in which it described the ‘welfare centres’ where refugees are held as “detention camps.”

HRW called on the international community to show a greater sense of responsibility for the emergency situation that is affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Sri Lanka.

For the human rights group the approval by the International Monetary Fund of a US$ 2.6 billion reconstruction loan for Sri Lanka should not hide the fact that the rights of the Tamil population have been violated.

In its letter HRW urges Western countries to use the loan, which will be handed out in instalments approved every three months, to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government to change its political line vis-à-vis Tamils and start a real process of national reconciliation.

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