Pope appeals for aid for Sri Lanka

Pope Benedict XVI called on Catholic and other aid agencies Sunday to spare no effort in securing necessary food and medical supplies to the scores of thousands of civilians who fled Sri Lanka’s Northern war zone.

The Pontiff assured “those civilians who find themselves in the combat zone in the northern part of the country of my affection and spiritual nearness.”

“There are thousands of children, women, and elderly there from whom the war has taken away years of life and hope,” the Holy Father added. “In this respect, I would like once again to address an urgent invitation to the opposing sides to facilitate the evacuation [of the civilians] and join my voice to that of the United Nations’ Security Council which just some days ago asked for guarantees of their safety and security.

“Furthermore, I ask the humanitarian organizations, including Catholic ones, to do all they can to meet the refugees urgent food and medical need.”

The Pope’s appeal came as the Tamil Tiger rebels conceded defeat in the 25 year civil war, after launching waves of suicide attacks to repel a final assault by troops determined to annihilate them.

The Holy Father entrusted the whole country of Sri Lanka to the protection of the Virgin Mary, and asked God to hasten the arrival of full reconciliation and lasting peace.

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