The Terror Journal

A Journal on Terrorism and Genocide

UN evacuates Sri Lanka civilians

UN flag The UN in Sri Lanka says one of its convoys has evacuated hundreds of civilians wounded in fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.

The convoy has crossed the frontline out of the battle zone.

A UN spokesman said the injured, including 50 children, were being taken to a hospital in Vavuniya.

Earlier, the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse denied that the fighting had led to a humanitarian crisis in the north.

UN spokesman Gordon Weiss said: “The convoy just crossed the frontline [with] hundreds of the civilians wounded by the fighting, including 50 critically wounded children, who are being moved to a Ministry of Health hospital in Vavuniya.”

On Wednesday, Gotabaya Rajapaksa told the BBC that he had a policy of “zero” civilian casualties.

The Red Cross believes that hundreds of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands more are trapped.

The United Nations convoy, which was trapped in the town of Puthukkudiyiruppu, succeeded in its second attempt in three days to evacuated the critically wounded civilians.

India has sought assurances that civilians trapped by the fighting in northern Sri Lanka will be protected.

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‘Exaggeration’

Gotabaya Rajapakse said both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UN were wrong about the situation in the north.

“I’m not saying they are lying but they are exaggerating,” he said.

He also ruled out any ceasefire for humanitarian reasons, saying it would give the Tigers a chance to reorganise.

“The purpose of this offensive is to eradicate them,” he said.

The military say they are involved in a final push against retreating rebels.

Moving north from the captured rebel town of Mullaitivu, they are trying to secure the north-east coastline to encircle the rebels and say they hope to control the entire north within weeks.

The ICRC said earlier that hundreds of civilians had been killed and a quarter of a million people were trapped by the fighting. The ICRC based its figure of dead on body counts by its staff in local hospitals.

It called on the government troops and rebels to allow immediate and free access to the combat zone for humanitarian workers.

But Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights said it was the rebels who were preventing the evacuation of civilians, not government forces.

It accused the Tigers of bombarding and killing civilians and suggested the Red Cross suffered from “either wilful ignorance or naivete” when it accused both sides of endangering civilians.

Source: BBC News

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