France, Britain call for peace in Sri Lanka

France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner and Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband write in the Times of London today about what they have witnessed in Sri Lanka.

Excerpts:
“We saw the situation for ourselves in Vavunja, close to the fighting, where we visited displaced Tamils and saw the newly arrived French field hospital. We heard stories of individual human tragedy: civilians forced by the LTTE not to leave its stronghold, deaths and injuries from bombs and artillery, and families separated, desperately seeking news of their loved ones – fears from the recent past, fears for their present situation and fear of what might happen in the future. ”
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NYT: 'Sri Lanka's dirty war'

The New York Times has written an editorial today stating that as the fighting in Sri Lanka rages on, “… tens of thousands of terrified civilians are trapped in the conflict zone — a strip of land about four miles long — and are running out of food and water. They must be allowed to leave.”

Read the editorial here.

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United Nations: Sri Lanka faces dual crises

A mother cradles her injured child.

A mother cradles her injured child.

The United Nations humanitarian chief warned yesterday that Sri Lanka faces what amounts to two distinct crises, as he toured camps for people who fled fighting in the country’s north between Government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“There are still tens of thousands of people trapped on a small patch of territory in the north, with the LTTE refusing to let them leave, and with fighting continuing,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes.

“The second crisis is the swollen camps that are filling up with 200,000 people who fled the fighting, many in very poor condition, with more likely on the way soon,” he added.
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Images of war, despair in Sri Lanka

The Boston Globe presents a heart-wrenching display of photographs from Sri Lanka, as civilians seek a safe place between the two warring sides. Click here to see the slide show.

Sri Lanka conflict spares no one.

Sri Lanka conflict spares no one.

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Sri Lanka troops press on, say will stop heavy weapons use

The New York Times reports the Sri Lankan government launched a fresh offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels today but said it had instructed the military to cease using heavy weapons, artillery and air strikes in the combat zone where tens of thousands of civilians are trapped. Click here to read the NYT story.

Reuters video: The United Nations sends its top humanitarian official to push for more protection for civilians trapped in the conflict between rebels and government troops. Paul Chapman reports.

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On the front in Sri Lanka

A Reuters photographer shares images and thoughts after spending a day on the front lines in Sri Lanka.
Click here to see the images and read the story.

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U.N. launches airlift to Sri Lanka

Refugees stream towards Mullivaikkal.

Refugees stream towards Mullivaikkal.

A UNHCR emergency airlift carrying humanitarian aid for tens of thousands of people displaced by fighting in north-eastern Sri Lanka began this morning with the arrival in Colombo of a plane carrying 2,850 family-sized tents from the refugee agency’s central stockpiles in Dubai.

The giant Boeing 747 cargo plane, the first of two scheduled flights to deliver more than 200 tons of UNHCR tents, landed in Colombo at 10:45 a.m. local time. The family tents will be used in the north of the country to help shelter thousands of people uprooted in recent fighting between government forces and Tamil rebels.
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