The Worst Place on Earth
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100,000 people try to escape from the violent fights between the Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) who have just turned their lives into an Armageddon. DanChurchAid is ready with relief aid to the refugees.
05.05.2009

Internally displaced persons in a camp in the safe areas. Foto: Reuters AlertNet

The most dangerous place on planet Earth right now is a small isthmus in eastern Sri Lanka.

In an area of only 10 km2, at least 100,000 civilians are caught in the fighting between the rebel army of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan government forces.

During the last few months, the conflict, which has been going on for decades between the country’s Tamil minority and the Sinhalese majority, is culminating in violent fights killing thousands of both civilians and soldiers.

A few years ago, LTTE controlled the northern and eastern Sri Lanka, but during the last couple of years, the government forces have driven LTTE back to a small area at the northeastern coast of the island.

Civilians pay

The fights between the army and LTTE are unusually violent, and the 100,000 civilians remaining in the area are suffering heavy losses and are trying to escape the war zone.

Observers estimate that 60,000 have fled from the area during the last few weeks.

Sometimes, more than 1,000 persons a day - among them many children – have left their homes and livelihood on foot in order to escape the war and get to the government controlled areas.

Many thousands are now safe in the camps outside the war torn areas. They get relief aid from the government and international relief organisations, including DanChurchAid.

Help to the refugees

Through the partner organisation OfERR in Sri Lanka, DanChurchAid has donated DKK 750,000 (approx. EUR 100,000) for purchase and distribution of toiletries such as soap, sanitary pads, tooth brushes and tooth paste, baby articles, mosquito nets, sleeping rugs, bed sheets as well as underwear, sarongs and kaftans.

Many other organisations are in the area trying to come to the rescue of the civilians.

World Food Programme supplies food, UNHCR delivers tents and tarpaulins and UNICEF takes care of water and sanitation for the civilian refugees.

However, it may be quite dangerous to try to get out of the Tamil controlled war zone and into the government controlled areas.

Reports reveal that many persons disappear before they reach safety in the camps; in addition, the refugees cannot move around freely.
But it is even more dangerous for the civilians to remain in the war zone. They risk their lives if they happen to be in the field of fire.

Many heads of government urge the warring parties to agree on a cease-fire so that the civilians can escape the war zone.

 

DanChurchAid in Sri Lanka

• Has just transferred DKK 750,000 for purchase of clothes, toiletries, mosquito nets, rugs, blankets etc. to the refugees from the war zone in eastern Sri Lanka. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has donated the funds
• Has approved DKK 2 million for five camps for refugees from earlier fights between LTTE and the government forces. The money will be spent on e.g. food, organising of the internally displaced persons and health care
• Works to find other forms of support to be implemented soonest possible

DanChurchAid has worked in Sri Lanka from 2004-2008 with reconstruction after the tsunami.

In December 2008, the reconstruction work was finished and the DanChurchAid office in Sri Lanka closed.

Right now, DanChurchAid is cooperating closely with other church related partner organisations, especially Christian Aid, UK, as well as ACT, Action by Churches Together, and local partners.

Thus, DanChurchAid is still able to provide relief aid to the civil population very fast.

 

By Anne-Mette Futtrup


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