Sri Lanka: Not All Tigers Accept a Ceasefire

WONG:
Now in Sri Lanka…the country is one step closer to ending Asias longest-running civil war. Let’s take a look.

STORY:
Tamil Tiger rebels told the U.N. and the international community on February 23rd that they are willing to accept a ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government. But the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rejected calls to lay down their arms and surrender.

The long running civil war has put a lot of pressure on the civilian population. The government says nearly 36 thousand people have escaped the rebels and crossed over to the government controlled areas. All of them are now housed in transfer camps.

International human rights organizations have accused the government of turning these camps into detention centers. The chief government administrator of Vavuniya denies the charge.

[S.M. Charles, Government Agent for Vavuniya]:
“The first day we allowed everybody–relatives and friends they brought meals and everything. But after that we had some bad experiences, so now we limit it.”

The government says it will take at least a year to resettle the people to their original houses. First, the area has to be cleared of mines and then reconstruction has to be completed. The centers have been equipped with schools and medical facilities.

[Dharmalingham Kailianathan, Student]:
“We came here after suffering severe difficulties. In the LTTE area I could not go outside because I feared that they would abduct me. We hid in the jungle for a long time before me and my family escaped.”

The school at this center is catering to 750 students, all of them Tamil. The teachers have also been displaced by the war and are staying in the camp.

[S. Sopika, Refugee]:
“We have been told not to use the water from the wells to wash our face or have a bath. There are showers for that. But I have to wait for a long time to get a turn to use the shower. So, I am late to school. The new students are not getting enough school books. So we have to take notes on all our subjects in one book.”

The Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting for a separate state for almost 30 years. More than 50,000 soldiers surrounded the Tigers in the northern war zone. Estimates of the rebel fighters range from 500 to 2,000.

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