Red Cross sends food aid to Sri Lanka war zone | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 19, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 19, 2009

Red Cross sends food aid to Sri Lanka war zone

Sri Lankan naval boats accompanied an emergency Red Cross shipment of food aid for tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the northeastern war zone Wednesday as the Tamil Tiger rebels once again appealed for a halt to the war and a new round of peace talks.
Government forces pledging to end the quarter-century civil war have pushed the rebels to the brink of defeat in recent weeks, seizing their strongholds across the north and trapping them in a 100-square kilometre strip of land along the coast.
Aid groups estimate about 200,000 civilians are stuck in heavy fighting, though the government says the number is less than 100,000. The government has denied accusations it shelled areas filled with civilians, while the rebels denied reports they shot at families trying to escape.
Rebel political chief Balasingham Nadesan accused the government of creating a humanitarian crisis in the area, and denied UN accusations that it was recruiting child soldiers and holding the local civilian population as human shields against the government offensive.
The United Nations said earlier this week that those caught in the fighting were facing severe shortages of food, medicine and clean water. An increasing number have fallen ill.
The Red Cross said it was sending 30 tons of dry rations to the civilians in the north. Aid workers say a minimum of 2,500 tons a month is required to feed the civilians trapped there.
Navy spokesman Capt DKP Dassanayake said naval boats were accompanying the Red Cross vessel.

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