CWS is calling for support for local organisations working to meet the immediate needs of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Sri Lanka. The priority is food, shelter and medical care to those in transit camps.
According to the UN an estimated 100,000 – 200,000 people have been caught in the fighting between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan government.
Tens of thousands of Tamil civilians have crossed into the government controlled transit camps in the last few days despite heavy fire. They have fled with no belongings. ACT (Action by Churches Together) International, of which CWS is a member, reported the arrival of 35,000 IDPs on 21 April alone. The camps have limited capacity to meet basic needs, deal with the injuries sustained during the fighting and severe trauma. They are dependent on outside sources of supplies. The influx of new arrivals will stretch existing resources and will require immediate financial assistance.
The majority of IDPs are not allowed to leave the camps and access into them is extremely difficult. There is an urgent need for medical personnel and there is a widespread concern for their protection and safety.
Accurate reports of the situation are difficult to come by as journalists have been banned from the 20 square kilometer “no fire” coastal region. However medical personnel have reported major injuries. The death toll is unknown but expected to be high.
Christian World Service is gravely concerned for the humanitarian situation and is calling for urgent actions by the United Nations and the Commonwealth to stop the fighting and protect the lives of civilians in the Vanni region.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Murray McCully has expressed concern for the trapped civilians.
New Zealand churches and concerned individuals are asked to pray for an end to the fighting and in particular the needs of the civilians made homeless.
Last month the executive secretary of the justice and peace commission of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), Santha Fernando, was taken into custody where he is being held by the Terrorism Investigation Department of the Sri Lankan police. As yet no reason has been given for his imprisonment. The NCCSL along with other church bodies have long worked for greater understanding between the peoples of Sri Lanka and a peaceful resolution of the 25 year war that ensures justice, peace and equality for all Sri Lankans.
Donations can be made at www.cws.org.nz , PO Box 22 652, Christchurch 8061 or Tel 0800 74 73 72.
April 23, 2009