Sri Lanka

Tens Of Thousands Of Sri Lankan Refugees Short Of Food, Water

News and Press Release
Originally published
By DEXTER CRUEZ Associated Press Writer

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - Some 200,000 people who fled fighting between Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan forces are dangerously short of food, water and shelter, a relief agency said today.

Gordon Molitor, CARE's director in Sri Lanka, praised the army and the separatists for allowing some food to be delivered to refugees in the northern war zone, but said that was not enough.

"More relief is desperately needed," he said in a statement. "The humanitarian situation is precarious and may get even worse."

The civilians are Tamil residents of Kilinochchi and nearby villages who fled when the military began an offensive July 26 to capture the rebel-held town.

The military lifted a blockade on food supplies to the region Aug. 12. Since then, the Defense Ministry said 296 food trucks have been sent to rebel-controlled areas.

In the latest fighting, the military said one rebel was killed by army snipers Tuesday as troops consolidated positions near Kilinochchi.

The military says at least 395 people, including 68 soldiers, have died in more than three weeks of fighting for Kilinochchi. The rebels put their death toll at 51 and the soldiers' at 100.

The guerrillas are fighting for a homeland in the north and east for minority Tamils and accuse the Sinhalese majority of discriminating against them. The war has killed more than 45,000 people since 1983.