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SRI LANKA – Civilians escape from the conflict zone

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sri_lanka_campaign.jpg Civilians
caught in the conflict zone try to flee. The Sri Lankan military reported that its
aerial surveillance footage caught the exodus of around 5,000 people trying to
escape the conflict zone in northeast of Sri Lanka. The civilians have fled
from the coastal strip where thousands are still being trapped in. According to
the United Nation's acting representative for Sri Lanka Amin Awad, up to 6,000
civilians trapped in the combat zone have or are trying to escape.

to the military spokesperson, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, "There is a large
number of people crossing, and the (rebels) fired at them, four people were
killed, 14 were wounded".  The military
sources indicate that twelve of the wounded have been airlifted for medical
attention. As of two evenings ago 2,700 civilians were cleared in government
protected areas, while 1,000 still wait.

Beside this
exodus, government doctors have closed the only clinic left in the war zone
where 2,000 patients are in need of treatment. The thousands of civilians still
stuck in the war zone have been unable to get food and medical care since 9 May.

Due to the
fighting, the food from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and
the World Food Programme could not reach the area, only being able to anchor
near Mullaitivu. The civilians caught in the crossfire are left on their own in
hand-dug bunkers, with little access to food and water. The ICRC's director of
operations, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, said, "Our staff are witnessing an
unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe".

The government information director, Anusha Palpita has said today that
the Sri Lankan army will rescue all civilians trapped in the war zone within 48
hours. Furthermore, President Mahinda Rajapakse has stated on a visit to Jordan
that they will see the capture of the remaining Tiger territory by the weekend.

In the
meantime the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on 14 May that it is "not
an appropriate time" to consider a massive International Monetary Fund
loan for Sri Lanka.