Thousands of refugees flee Wanni region in Sri Lanka: UN
Around 24,000 refugees have fled Sri Lanka's Wanni region so far this year, as clashes continue in the north of the island nation, where some 250,000 civilians are trapped by fighting between Government forces and the LTTE, United Nations said.
Hundreds more Tamil civilians have fled Sri Lanka's war zone, the defence ministry said Friday, as Colombo angrily rejected Britain's appointment of a special envoy to the island.
Men, woman and children crossed the front lines in the district of Mullaittivu where the army has cornered the remaining forces of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
"The people fled despite a series of barricades imposed by the LTTE to stall the civilian influx," the ministry said in a statement.
The government has accused the Tiger rebels of using civilians trapped by the fighting as "human shields" and of preventing them from leaving the area. The Red Cross says hundreds of non-combatants have already been killed.
The latest flight of civilians came as Britain said it had appointed former defence minister Des Browne as a special envoy to focus on the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka.
The move by the former colonial power was swiftly condemned by the government in Colombo.
"It is tantamount to an intrusion into Sri Lanka's internal affairs and is disrespectful to the country's statehood," Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told AFP.