Fighting threatens Sri Lankan civilians
In this war, as in most
wars it is the civilians
who suffer the most.
But as the military advances rapidly, human rights groups and humanitarian agencies have raised the alarm over the fate of some 230,000 civilians trapped by ground fighting and aerial attacks. Many have been forced to flee by the retreating Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, making it hard to deliver aid and evacuate the injured.
In an echo of the Gaza conflict, the government has blocked access for almost all news media and relief agencies. It has also withheld casualty figures, while President Mahinda Rajapaksa has rallied public support behind an all-out push to defeat the rebels.
Since September, the International Committee of the Red Cross has been the only relief organization allowed into the Vanni region where the fighting is under way. Last week, the ICRC expressed "serious concerns" over the "physical safety and living conditions" of displaced civilians.