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Concern Lebanon crisis is overshadowing Sri Lanka

TEAR Fund Press Release:

For Immediate Release: 10/08/06

Concern Lebanon crisis is overshadowing Sri Lankan civil war

New Zealand aid organisation TEAR Fund is expressing concern the crisis in Lebanon is overshadowing the lurch towards full-blown civil war in Sri Lanka.

Last week Sri Lankan rebel leaders declared the nation’s four-year-old cease-fire was over. This followed heavy fighting for control of a water supply in northeastern Sri Lanka, which led to the deaths of 35 Tamil guerillas and seven soldiers.

Since that incident, skirmishes between the military and Tamil rebels have increased markedly. Fifteen French aid workers were killed over the weekend during an attack on the village where they were working. The military and rebels have blamed each other for the deaths. Meanwhile, over 30,000 people have now fled the violence to find refuge in displacement camps.

“Even as the conflict in Lebanon continues, a refugee and humanitarian crisis is beginning to develop in Sri Lanka – almost unnoticed by the rest of the world,” says TEAR Fund Executive Director Stephen Tollestrup.

Rebels began fighting for an independent Tamil homeland in 1983. About 65,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed before a cease-fire was signed in 2002.

“It is essential Sri Lanka does not again slip into civil war. There have already been too many lives lost and too much suffering endured.”

ENDS

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