Sri Lankan government prepares to receive 100,000 war refugees
The Sri Lankan government is preparing to
receive some 100,000 civilians fleeing Tamil rebel-held areas in the northern
part of the country after some 10,000 have already crossed over to military
controlled areas, officials said Sunday, dpa
Preparations were being put in place to receive large numbers of civilians in Vavuniya, 240 kilometres north of the capital, an official involved in providing relief to the displaced persons said.
Already some 10,000 persons who crossed over are being accommodated in temporary camps while some others injured during the conflict were being treated in government hospitals which have been placed under tight security in Vavuniya.
The government said it has temporarily suspended the delivery of food supplies to the conflict areas because there was no safe area where the food could be delivered.
Essential Services Commissioner General SB Divaratne told The Sunday Times newspaper in Colombo that the government has decided to put on hold future aid convoys to the conflict zone in the Wanni area after the UN failed to name a safe area which could be used as a delivery point.
He said the decision was taken because of the complexity of the situation in the Mullaitivu area, 390 kilometres north-east of the capital, where the fighting is currently in progress between rebels and government forces.
"At present the security forces and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) are engaged in pitched close-quarter battles and we don't know how these aid convoys could enter such areas. There is no guarantee of safety, and so it was decided to put on hold future convoys until the situation clears up," Divaratne was quoted as saying.
The military says the rebels are now confined to an area of 150 square kilometers and UN estimates that some 250,000 people are trapped in the area. Sri Lankan government estimates put the figure at 150,00.
There were no immediate details of the fighting between the security forces and Tamil rebels on Sunday, but on Saturday the air force carried out at least six airstrikes on rebel targets in the Mullaitivu area.