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Rights group urges Sri Lanka and Tamil Tigers to evacuate civilians

[JURIST]  The Sri Lankan government [official website; JURIST news archive] and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [group website; JURIST news archive] should agree on an evacuation plan for civilians [press release] caught in hostilities between the groups in the country's Vanni region, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Wednesday. HRW said that approximately 150,000 civilians are caught in the area, and that more than 2,000 have been killed in the last two months. Also Wednesday, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [advocacy website] head of South Asian operations Jaques de Maio said the situation in the country was dire [interview text]:

[I]t is definitely one of the most disastrous situations I have come across. Yet it would be possible to avoid further unnecessary suffering and death by allowing civilians who want to leave to get out of the area. It is urgent that more humanitarian assistance be brought into the Vanni now.
Maio said that the ICRC had already been able to evacuate approximately 2,400 sick and wounded civilians from Vanni over the last three weeks with some cooperation from of the government and LTTE, but said that the evacuations have still been dangerous and that the fighting has destroyed hospitals and other infrastructure.

Last month, HRW released a report [text, PDF; JURIST report] alleging that both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE are guilty of human rights violations. Earlier this year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] issued a statement [press release; JURIST report] condemning the deteriorating conditions of those trapped in the Vanni region, and called for investigations and prosecutions for the killings and other human rights abuses. HRW has repeatedly accused both sides of violations, and since 2007 has also criticized the government's de facto internment centers and its role in the increase in unlawful killings and other human rights violations [JURIST reports].

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