Civilians Increasingly Under Fire in Sri Lankan Conflict

Caught in the middle of fighting between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE), civilians in Sri Lanka's eastern and northern regions live in terror. Sri Lanka has been in the grips of this fighting on and off for nearly 25 years, but the conflict has received very little attention, especially in terms of the toll it has taken on civilians living in the conflict zone.

Targeted bombings, killings, mine attacks, suicide bombings, abductions, forced recruitment, extortion, restrictions on movement, and arbitrary arrests make day-to-day life in Sri Lanka increasingly precarious. Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans in need of humanitarian assistance have been displaced since the resumption of major fighting in August 2006.

The dire nature of the situation is compounded by a general climate of hostility and suspicion toward humanitarian aid organisations. As a result, humanitarian aid is increasingly restricted and civilians suffer from the resulting lack of access to lifesaving emergency assistance. This lack of respect for humanitarian aid comes at a time when areas near the front line of fighting have lost nearly all of their medical specialists and hospitals no longer have the human resources to treat the wounded.

After having to evacuate in late 2006, MSF is now providing medical, obstetrical, and surgical care in Point Pedro, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, and Mannar.