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Sri Lanka children ‘being killed

[BBC, Wednesday, 18 March 2009 10:00 No Comment]

The conflict in Sri Lanka has killed hundreds of children and left many more injured, United Nations’ children’s agency, Unicef, has said.

Moreover, thousands of children are at risk because of "a critical lack of food, water and medicines", the agency says.


Intense fighting is going on between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels in north-eastern Sri Lanka.


The Tigers have been driven from most of the territory they held by the army.


They are now cornered in a small patch of jungle and coastal area in the Mullaitivu district.

It is estimated that between 70,000 and 200,000 civilians are caught up in the conflict zone.


The Tamil Tigers have fought for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority since 1983.


More than 70,000 people have been killed in the war.


"Children and their families caught in the conflict zone are at risk of dying from disease and malnutrition," news agency AFP quoted Unicef executive director Ann Veneman as saying.


"Regular, safe access for humanitarian agencies is urgently required, so that life-saving supplies can be provided, and civilians must be allowed to move to safe areas where essential humanitarian support is more readily available," she added.


"The rights of children caught in the conflict must be fully respected and every effort should be taken to prevent civilian casualties," Ms Veneman said.


Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that the condition for civilians in the north was "deteriorating by the day".


"The area is affected by shelling every day, and the cramped conditions and the lack of water and proper sanitation are putting people at risk," news agency Associated Press reported, quoting from an ICRC statement.


Intense fighting has been going in north-eastern Sri Lanka over the past several weeks and the troops have destroyed many rebel positions in the area.

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