A total of 55,286 Tamil civilians have fled the fast-shrinking LTTE territory in the northern combat zone to take shelter in government-held areas since January this year,officials said on Thursday.
The latest batch to cross over from battle-scarred Wanni region on Wednesday comprised 1,386 people — 413 men,378 women,315 boys and 330 girls,an official of the Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services said.
Thousands of civilians are trapped in a strip of jungle and beach along the island’s northeast coast where troops are fighting to flush out the remnants of the Tamil Tiger rebels.
The official said 55,286 civilians have crossed over to government-held areas from Wanni till now.
The Indian government has also commended the relief efforts by the Sri Lankan government for the displaced people arriving from Mullaitivu,an official release said here on Thursday.
It said Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Alok Prasad has expressed his appreciation when he called on Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva recently.
Minister de Silva thanked the High Commissioner for continuously providing services for the displaced at the ‘welfare villages’ set up by the Sri Lankan government.
The Sri Lankan government early this month sent 500 metric tonnes of food rations for the displaced civilians in Wanni,the biggest shipment so far,Commissioner of Essential Services S B Divarathna said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is of the view that present dispatches of items are not adequate for the civilians and ordered bigger shipments to accelerate the process,he said.
The internal community,including India,has voiced concern over the humanitarian impact of the government’s war against LTTE in the north.
The UN estimates that at least 150,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone. The government says the number is closer to 50,000. It has also accused the cornered LTTE of using them as human shields. The guerrillas have suffered dramatic reverses in recent fighting,losing most of the territory held by them to advancing troops.
Meanwhile,speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier this week,Sri Lankan Deputy Solicitor-General Yasantha Kodagoda asserted that there was no genocidal situation in the island as being alleged from some quarters.
The government of Sri Lanka is engaged in a legitimate military and humanitarian operation,aimed at liberating its own people from LTTE, he said and charged the LTTE with abusing humanitarian gestures of the government.
It is now beyond proof that the LTTE has positioned themselves inside the ‘No Fire Zone’ declared and observed by the security forces of the government of Sri Lanka, he said.
To claim that the situation in Sri Lanka is genocidal in nature is a total distortion of the actual ground situation and a complete falsehood,he said.