Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

More than 100,000 Cross Jungle to Flee Sri Lanka War

by Justin Huggler, The Independent, March 14, 2007

At least 40,000 civilians are believed to have fled from Tiger-held territory in the past week as government forces have kept up a fearsome bombardment, bringing the total number of displaced people to 127,000, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "Almost every night we can hear the sound of heavy shelling...

Tens of thousands of refugees are streaming out of eastern Sri Lanka as fighting between government forces and the Tamil Tigers worsens. So many people have fled that there is no room left in refugee camps, and many are being forced to sleep rough with only the trees for shelter.

"One family I met this week lost everything they had in the tsunami; then, three months ago, just when they had finished building their new home, it took a direct hit from a shell," said Kolitha Wickramage, of the British charity Merlin, which is providing medical aid to refugees. "Along with others from their village, the family fled in the middle of the night, crossing thick jungle and deep rivers. They described how several children drowned and had to be buried under leaves."

At least 40,000 civilians are believed to have fled from Tiger-held territory in the past week as government forces have kept up a fearsome bombardment, bringing the total number of displaced people to 127,000, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "Almost every night we can hear the sound of heavy shelling, and each day more families arrive carrying what they have salvaged from their homes," said Mr Wickramage.

Yesterday the government carried out air strikes on a rebel-held area for a second day. At least 80,000 people are believed to have fled to government-controlled areas in January.

Aid agencies, including the UN, the World Bank, Oxfam and Save the Children are warning of a potential humanitarian disaster. "So far we haven't seen major outbreaks of disease, but as more families flee here and the summer heat builds up, we're worried that things could get out of control," said Mr Wickramage.