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Civilians in Sri Lanka in urgent need of food and medical services

Christian Aid partner organisations in Sri Lanka report that the tens of thousands of civilians fleeing the fighting in the north of the island are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

IOFERR Ceylon, a Christian Aid partner, has been working in Vavuniya and Mannar with people displaced by the tsunami of 2004; it is now focusing on those displaced by the fighting.

Miss Sooriyakumary Sinnathamby, President of OFERR Ceylon says food and medical assistance are the priority.

‘We are providing some 2,000 displaced people in Vavuniya with cooked food since they fled their homes with nothing and cannot even cook. We are also providing health care.’ says Miss Sinnathamby.

Aid agencies say there is a major humanitarian crisis in the north where civilians are trapped between government forces and the ethnic separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

According to the UN 75,000 people crossed into Oamanthai earlier in the week and unsubstantiated reports say 100,000 more are on the move south from the Vanni towards Kilinochi.

An estimated 250,000 civilians are trapped in a ‘safe area’ in Mullaitivu District.

‘There people are so traumatised they also need trained counsellors,’ says Miss Sinnathamby. ‘They have been forced to move around and many are injured so counselling is vital if they are ever to be able to resume their normal lives.'

‘They would also be greatly helped by the presence of family and friends.’

Two other Christian Aid partner organisations: Social Organisation Network for Development (SOND) and The Refugee Rehabilitation Organisation (TRRO) are doing relief and rehabilitation work in Jaffna.

The conflict has killed an estimated 70,000 people, displaced thousands more and held back the island's growth and economic development.


Notes to Editors:

For more information or interviews with Christian Aid partners in Sri Lanka contact Judith Melby on 07720 467 679 or jmelby@christian-aid.org