05/08/2009, 00.00
INDIA – SRI LANKA
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War in Sri Lanka due to ethnic and religious factors, Tamil refugee says

by Nirmala Carvalho
After fleeing the island in the nineties, he describes the fears his compatriots are going through in refugee camps in India. “Almost 90 per cent of refugees hope to go back to Sri Lanka, but the Sri Lankan government has done nothing for Tamils,” except to push for “a Sinhala and Buddhist nation.”
Chennai (AsiaNews) – “The genocide currently underway in Sri Lanka is due to religious and racial factors. They [the government] want to create a Sinhala and Buddhist nation,” this according to a Tamil refugee who now lives in Madurai, in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu.

Originally from the district of Mannar, the 49-year-old man told AsiaNews that he was twice arrested without a reason by the Sri Lankan army in 1983 and 1984.

“They tortured a friend of my mine in front of me and killed a neighbour who was innocent,” he said on condition that his name not be used.  “We endured a lot of violence and in the end I fled with my three little children in 1990.”

Now he works at a Tamil refugee centre in Madurai, where stories about airstrikes in his homeland are filtering in on continuous basis.

“They are saying that the Mulivaikkal district is surrounded and that civilians are dying, hungry. Some of my relatives have been wounded or killed,” he said.

The effect of all this is that refugees in India are once more “reliving the terror” they experienced, and are being “traumatised” again.

“Almost 90 per cent of refugees hope to go back to Sri Lanka, but the Sri Lankan government has done nothing for Tamils, except discriminate and marginalise them because of religious and ethnic differences.”

UN sources just reported that on the island the humanitarian crisis is getting worse. The wave of refugees that began fleeing the combat zone on 20 April has pushed the number of refugees up, from 65,000 to 190,000, all held in government-run camps; among them about 3,000 pregnant women, 350 of whom are set to deliver shortly, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said.

(Melani Manel Perera contributed to the article)

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