05/13/2009, 00.00
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Nuns from the south rush to aid Tamil refugees

by Melani Manel Perera
The nuns join the priests already operative in Vanni, in the north of the island. President Rajapaksa tank the Church for its commitment. A local Red Cross worker is killed. The UN says there are still 50 thousand civilians trapped in the war zone.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Thirty Catholic nuns left the capital bound for Vavuniya yesterday, accompanied by Caritas-Sri Lanka National Director, Father Damian Fernando and Father George Sigamony the Director of Kandy (Setik).
In accordance with the government the religious sisters will spend three months helping refugees in Vanni, particularly children while also remaining available to lend assistance in the hospitals.  There are four camps in Vavuniya, on the Vanni border, with 196,000 people living in them at the moment.
The departure of the 30 nuns is the Sri Lankan Catholic Churches answer to the Colombo governments appeal for aid to help the victims of the war being waged in the Island’s north.  The group of nuns will join priests already operative on the ground, who have been tending to the pastoral needs of the people in conflict areas for years.
May 11th last President Mahinda Rajapaksa received a delegation of Catholic Bishops at Temple Trees, led by Msgr. Oswald Gomis, Archbishop of Colombo, and including the bishop of Galle Harold Anthony Perera, the bishop of Ratnapura Cletus Perera, the bishop of Trincomalee-Batticaloa,  Kingsly Swamipillai and the national director of Caritas-Sedec.
The President thanked the Church for its work in aiding the population in the affected area; the delegation “assured the government of the assistance and support of the Catholic Church in aid and rehabilitation efforts in Vanni and elsewhere in the North”.
Meanwhile the battle between the army and Tamil Tigers continues.   The Colombo forces claim they have broken the defence barriers erected by the LTTE and that they now control the 5 square km of cost along the Nanthi Kdala lagoon.
The United Nations estimated that as many as 50, 000 people are still trapped within the no fire zone, now reduced to less than 2.5 square kilometres. More innocent lives have been claimed in recent days of fighting.  Today a local worker from the Red Cross, the only humanitarian organisation allowed in the zone was also killed.
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See also
Jaffna bishop, Christians on hunger strike for Vanni’s displaced civilians
ICRC building attacked with stones in Colombo, its chief could be expelled
Anglican bishop calls attention to civilians caught in crossfire between army and Tamil Tigers
Two Red Cross volunteers abducted in Colombo are killed
Thousands of refugees living in the woods; army is blocking aid


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