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Quarter of a million ‘trapped in Sri Lanka bloodshed’

[AFP, Tuesday, 27 January 2009 17:34 No Comment]

A major humanitarian crisis is unfolding in northern Sri Lanka where about 250,000 people are trapped and "hundreds" have been killed in heavy fighting, the international Red Cross said Tuesday.


Medical facilities in the Vanni region are overwhelmed by "hundreds of dead and scores of wounded" during a government offensive on the last strip of rebel Tamil Tiger territory, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.


"It’s high time to take decisive action and stop further bloodshed because time is running out," said Jacques de Maio, ICRC head of operations for South Asia.


"People are being caught in the crossfire, hospitals and ambulances have been hit by shelling and several aid workers have been injured while evacuating the wounded."


In the statement on a "major humanitarian crisis unfolding," the ICRC said an estimated quarter of a million people were unable to flee from the 250 square kilometre area and could not find shelter from the fighting.

"The violence is preventing the ICRC from operating in the region," di Maio added.

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