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Sri Lanka: Govt & Tamils clashes threaten children

Sri Lanka: clashes between Government, Tamil rebels threaten children – UNICEF

With Sri Lankan children falling victim to the renewed clashes between the Sri Lankan Government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today called on both sides to halt the violence and return to the negotiating table.

“Sri Lankan children in areas most affected by recent clashes are paying a high price for the escalating tension in the island,” UNICEF said in the latest expression of UN concern over the breakdown of a four-year-old ceasefire in the country.

Thousands of children are still displaced from their homes following the recent violence in Trincomalee District, in which six children were killed and others injured or severely traumatized, the agency noted, adding that at least nine children in other districts, including Jaffna and Vavuniya, had been killed or injured in violent incidents.

Some were victims of shooting, while others lost their lives from attacks using grenades or claymore mines.

Schools in many areas remain suspended because of insecurity or occupation by families who have fled their homes. Violence and insecurity have also forced hundreds of families to abandon their livelihoods, increasing their vulnerability and dependence on humanitarian aid.

“The ongoing violence underlines the urgency for the parties to the conflict to take immediate action to avoid slipping back into a state of war,” UNICEF said.

Just last Friday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the Government and the LTTE to “change course and bring the country back on a path to peace.”

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