Loading
Sri Lankan combat leaves over 100,000 refugees ‘highly traumatized’
Sri Lankan children affected by the ongoing assault. Credit: Caritas
Sri Lankan children affected by the ongoing assault. Credit: Caritas

.- Charities are calling for a ceasefire and are working to relieve the “dire need” of hundreds of thousands of “highly traumatized” civilians who have fled intense combat between government and rebel forces in northern Sri Lanka.

Caritas Internationalis said that the civilians are leaving rebel held territory in Vanni in the north of the country after months of combat between government forces and Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels. Two priests who remained in the conflict zone, despite having had the chance to leave, were badly injured in shelling.

The refugees are now in government-run camps, where Caritas is providing cooked meals to new arrivals, medical support and trauma counseling. The organization is also working to provide schooling for children.

Caritas Sri Lanka’s National Director Father Damian Fernando said Sri Lanka is undergoing “the worst scenario.”

“Innocent civilians are paying a huge cost and are the worst hit. Already there are more than 130,000 who have crossed over to the [Vavuniya] government controlled side. These people are coming out in highly traumatized conditions. Most of them are tired and worn out after months of suffering. Many of them are injured and some of them are very severely wounded. The hospitals have totally exceeded their capacity to receive the wounded.”

Father T.R. Vasanthaseelan, local director of Caritas in Vanni, was severely injured in the legs when St. Anthony’s Church in Valaignarmadam was shelled on the morning of April 23. One of his legs required amputation.

Tens of thousands had sought safety at the church. The priest had been in Vanni to provide humanitarian assistance and to move with refugees.

Further, Caritas has received the news that Rev. Fr. James Pathinathan, a member of National Commission for Justice, Peace and Human Development was also injured and brought to the hospital in Anuradhapura the day before.

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight responded to their being injured, saying the organization’s thoughts and prayers were with the priests and the people of Vanni.

“Fr. Vasanthaseelan is a much loved figure in Sri Lanka and throughout the Caritas confederation. He is a man of peace, courage and hope. He has lived among the people he seeks to serve and accompanied them through their suffering. He has been a sign of love and faithfulness throughout such difficult times.”

“That aid workers are suffering only underlines how innocent people, women and children are being killed and injured in Sri Lanka’s civil war and reinforces our calls for an immediate ceasefire,” she said, reiterating combatants’ obligations to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access under the Geneva Conventions.

“The United Nations and the international community must hold them to these commitments,” Knight added.

The biggest challenge is meeting the needs of those who are now arriving in large numbers and will soon be amassed in “already overcrowded” camps, Fr. Fernando said.

“The military forces in charge of the camps are totally preoccupied with security and fears of LTTE infiltration,” he explained.

He reported that the government has asked religious people from both north and south to be mobilized to bring help to the refugees.

“The Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka has mandated Caritas Sri Lanka to respond. Caritas, as a Church institution, is able to work in the camps and send religious nuns and priests to help the people. Caritas is responding as it’s the only opportunity for the Church to witness its compassion to the suffering people.”

There is a “dire need” for food and other aid items, Fr. Fernando said, adding that Caritas is trying to provide aid through its Manar Valvuthyam and Jaffna offices.

“Caritas will support the needs of the people as and when they arrive and as long as the needs are not catered to by others,” he said, stating that Caritas will negotiate with the government to find a “lasting solution for peace.”


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
19

Liturgical Calendar

April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:1-10

Gospel
Date
04/19/14
04/18/14
04/17/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Gen 1:1-2:2
Gospel:: Mt 28:1-10

Saint of the Day

Blessed James Oldo »

Saint
Date

Homily of the Day

Mt 28:1-10

Homily
Date
04/19/14
04/18/14
04/17/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: