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Sri Lanka: Killing of Civilians Deplorable

Resume peace talks to prevent further bloodshed of innocent people


Contact: Paul Newman, South Asia Advocacy Officer, 39 329 564 2824,; Andrew Galea Debono, JRS International Advocacy Coordinator, 39-06 68977390, 39 329 564 2824,; both with Jesuit Refugee Service


SRI LANKA, Nov. 12 /Standard Newswire/ -- "Blatant attacks on civilians by any of the parties to this conflict are deplorable. An immediate and solemn resumption of peace talks between the warring parties is the only way to prevent further bloodshed of innocent people", said JRS South Asia Regional Advocacy Officer Paul Newman during a meeting of JRS advocacy and programme staff held in Rome on 10 November.


Last Wednesday, 45 men, women and children lost their lives as a direct consequence of an artillery attack on a camp for displaced persons by the Sri Lankan armed forces, while thousands of others were forced to flee the camp.


This week's events in Sri Lanka have demonstrated once again that civilians are always the main victims of conflict. They lose their homes, their means to earn a living and, sometimes, their lives. Many are also separated from their loved ones.


This is just the latest in a series of attacks by both sides on each other since major fighting erupted last November. Despite sporadic peace talks, nothing durable for the people of Sri Lanka has been achieved.


"It is vital that the international community take concrete measures to encourage the belligerents back to the talks, and bring to an end these ongoing brutal human rights abuses" added Mr. Newman.


"In the interim, aid workers and independent monitors must be granted free access to the conflict affected areas to be able to perform their duties. Their constant presence would alleviate some of the suffering of innocent people and serve as a deterrent against further human rights violations" urged Mr. Newman.


"The killing of innocent people should no longer be ignored or tolerated", added the South Asia Advocacy Officer.


Since August more than 3,000 have been killed, and 35,000 displaced, by fighting between the rebel LTTE and government forces hundreds, on top of 65,000 killed and 350,000 displaced since 1983.


JRS Sri Lanka provides education, vocational training, income-generating and human rights awareness programmes, as well as emergency relief to more than 60,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the conflict affected north and northeast of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka team began working in the country in 1996.


JRS International works in over 50 countries in five continents around the world. It employs over 1,000 staff: lay, Jesuits and other religious to meet the education, health, social and other needs of over 500,000 refugees and IDPs. It allows provides legal and other services to migrants refugees detained purely on the basis of their immigration status in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Its services are provided to refugees regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.