New Zealand-based overseas aid agency Christian World Service has called on the government to pressure its Sri Lankan counterparts to negotiate an end to the quarter century conflict.
Fierce fighting in Sri Lanka is all but over however the country still needs a political resolution to the conflict.
CWS national director Pauline McKay says foreign governments, including New Zealand, need to help with aid and to persuade the Sri Lanka Government to create a just settlement for all.
CWS is also concerned about the 200,000 Sri Lankan citizens in internal displacement camps near the conflict zone. With its Sri Lanka partners, CWS is working to provide food, shelter and medical care as most refugees arrived with nothing except the clothes they were wearing. Many civilians have been injured in the fighting. Children are dying from lack of food. Most people are traumatised.
“There is mounting concern for the protection of the human rights of those in the camps, which should be administered according to international humanitarian standards by the Red Cross and the UN,” Ms McKay says.
Speaking from Colombo, CWS partner Sandun Thudugala, says the government has declared victory but some in some pockets, fighting continues. Without a political solution, the problem of instability will remain.
“The government says it will finish it but we feel the government is not able to find any political solution for the people.
“People in the north are suffering. The people in that area should have the right to address the issue as it affects them. Share the power amongst the minority Tamil people.”
He reiterated the need for the New Zealand government to pressure the Sri Lanka government to seek a political solution through negotiation. In the meantime, civilians in the government-controlled camps are enduring lack of food, medication, and other sanitary facilities. Chickenpox and other diseases are spreading widely. Medical treatment is not available for all those who have been injured in the fighting, Mr Thudugala says.
May 19, 2009