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UN evacuates Sri Lanka civilians

[BBC, Thursday, 29 January 2009 07:32 No Comment]

_45422678_006795398-1 The UN in Sri Lanka says one of its convoys has evacuated civilians wounded in the fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.

The convoy has crossed the frontline out of the battle zone.


A UN spokesman said the injured, including 50 children, were being taken to a hospital in Vavuniya.

Earlier, the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse denied that the fighting had led to a humanitarian crisis in the north.


UN spokesman Gordon Weiss said: "The convoy just crossed the frontline [with] hundreds of the civilians wounded by the fighting, including 50 critically wounded children, who are being moved to a Ministry of Health hospital in Vavuniya."


On Wednesday, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told the BBC that he had a policy of "zero" civilian casualties.

The Red Cross believes that hundreds of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands more are trapped.


The United Nations convoy, which was trapped in the town of Puthukkudiyiruppu, succeeded in its second attempt in three day to evacuated the critically wounded civilians.


India has sought assurances that civilians trapped by the fighting in northern Sri Lanka will be protected.



Gotabhaya Rajapakse said both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UN were wrong about the situation in the north.

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