Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Civilian plight worsens amid civil war in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — As the country's long-running civil war appears to be reaching its climax, a picture of desperation is emerging from that roughly 4-square-mile spit between a lagoon and the sea where rebels from the ethnic Tamil minority are making their last stand.

The United Nations' top humanitarian official arrived in Sri Lanka to seek access to some 50,000 civilians trapped in the country's war zone, while the Tamil Tiger rebels warned Saturday of imminent starvation among noncombatants.

As the Sri Lankan military pushes forward with its offensive to destroy the separatist insurgency and end the Indian Ocean island nation's bloody quarter-century civil war, stories of suffering have streamed out of the area in recent days along with the tens of thousands of civilians who were able to break through the front lines.

Tim Pruchnic, an American surgeon working at a hospital in the northern town of Vavuniya, said many of his patients were so weak they were dying after operations that would not normally be life-threatening.

The rebels have also forced some civilians to take up arms, the United Nations says. The government has ignored appeals from the United Nations, India, the United States and other nations for a cease-fire until all the civilians are out of the combat zone.

Aid workers have been barred from the region since fighting escalated last year.

"The situation of those people is very dire," said John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, who began a three-day mission to the island.

Civilian plight worsens amid civil war in Sri Lanka 04/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 25, 2009 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  2. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI


    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.
  3. For starters: Rays vs. Mariners, with another new look


    Having lost 11 of their last 14 games and dropping to a season-worst four games under .500 at 60-64, the Rays continue to search for ways to get out of their extended offensive slump.

    And with the M's starting LHP Ariel Miranda today, that means another new look to the lineup, which includes having struggling …

  4. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often


    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  5. Two Boca Ciega students arrested on charges they brought gun to high school football game


    PINELLAS PARK — Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic handgun with them at a Friday night football game at Pinellas Park High School.

    Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school property on Friday night at a high school football game at Pinellas Park High School.