Caritas worker killed in Sri Lanka conflict
06 May 2009
Caritas says one of its drivers has been killed in the conflict in northern Sri Lanka.
Caritas staff, “Raj” Anthonipillai Uthayaraj, 26, was killed in Mullivaikal in the "No Fire" zone where civilians are seeking safety from fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.
“Raj” Anthonipillai Uthayaraj, 26, was killed in Mullivaikal in the "No Fire" zone where civilians are seeking safety from fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.
“This is a dreadful loss for Raj’s family, friends and Caritas,” said Lesley-Anne Knight, Caritas Internationalis Secretary General. “It further emphasises the need for people caught up in this conflict to reach safety and have the basic things they need.”
Tens of thousands of people in the north of the island have been pushed into a small strip of land which is being fought over by government forces and Tamil rebels. An estimated 190,000 have managed to escape into government-controlled areas and now live in temporary camps.
Concerns are high for the people in the no fire zone.
Rev. Fr. T.R. Vasanthaseelan, the local director of Caritas in the Vanni region, had a leg amputated and the other severely wounded in fighting two weeks ago. Another priest was also wounded recently.
“There must be an end to this war or more lives will be lost,” says Fr Damien Fernando, National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka. “Aid workers and civilians alike must receive genuine protection.”
The people living in camps desperately need basic necessities such as food, water and medical assistance. Caritas is providing cooked meals to new arrivals in the camps, medical support and counselling for trauma.
Caritas renews its call for all sides to respect international humanitarian law to protect civilians and their property and to allow aid agencies access to provide humanitarian assistance in northern Sri Lanka.
Fr Fernando says that Caritas will continue to help people and also help seek a lasting solution for peace in the country.
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