European Union to fund Sri Lanka’s war refugees

July 4, 2006 (AFP) – The European Union Tuesday announced seven million euros (8.9 million dollars) in aid for some 400,000 people displaced by the drawn-out separatist conflict in Sri Lanka since 1972. The money, channeled through 20 local and international relief agencies, will go to refugees mainly in the island’s embattled northern and eastern regions, parts of which are held by Tamil Tiger rebels.

“The money will be spent to help about 400,000 internally displaced people,” said Julian Wilson, the head of the EU mission here.

“About 50,000 of them had been displaced since January this year,” he said.

Escalating violence on the island has claimed over 830 lives since December despite a truce between government forces and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Tens of thousands have been forced from their homes by tit-for-tat killings, disappearances and military operations.

Wilson said assistance to Sri Lanka’s troubled regions would not decrease despite the EU outlawing the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organisation in May.

The LTTE has reacted by demanding the withdrawal of truce monitors from EU member states by September 1.

“We do not perceive a threat,” Wilson said