Sri Lanka fighting traps civilians in no-fire zone

Thousands of civilians remain trapped in fighting between Sri Lanka’s military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Many civilians fleeing a northern no-fire zone have sought refuge at a temporary field hospital.

But as Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports, the makeshift facility lacks many of the things that might qualify it as a temporary field hospital, including blood reserves, antibiotics and essential medical items.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday that between 50,000 and 100,000 people remain stranded in the “no-fire zone”.

Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, said: “Both sides need to show far greater concern for civilians, or many more civilians will die.”

However, Lakshiman Hulugalle, a defence ministry spokesman, said that the government could cater for the refugees.

“We have been looking after more than 70,000 refugees for the last couple of months,’ he said.

“Their welfare is being looked after. Once their registration is done, their basic needs are being looked into.”

The UN has repeatedly accused the military of shelling the “no-fire” zone, and the LTTE of preventing civilians from leaving, in effect using them as human shields.

Both sides reject the claims.

The UN says at least 4,500 civilians have been killed in the past three months of heavy fighting and another 12,000 injured.

The military’s final operation to crush the LTTE set off protests by expatriate Tamils in London and Paris, the latest in weeks of demonstrations against the offensive in cities across the world.

In Paris, around 180 people were arrested and four injured after protesters blocked an intersection and threw objects at buses and police, French authorities said.

Source AlJazeera English


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