Frustrated relief workers demand protection in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

KALLAR, Sri Lanka, Aug 7, 2006 (AFP) – Tired and hungry aid workers labor ceaselessly in crowded refugee camps on the edge of Sri Lanka’s conflict zone amid the thundering sound of artillery. “We will not go to Muttur unless we deem it safe.” Their steely resolve gives hope to nearly 30,000 people displaced by heavy fighting between Tiger rebels and government forces, but news that 15 of their colleagues were killed has outraged them to a point that they are now demanding protection.

“This is plainly a crime, not only to us but to those we serve,” said Guy Hovey, head of delegation for the US-based United Methodist Committee on Relief which has been working to evacuate people since the fresh conflict began.

The killings of 15 employees of French agency Action Against Hunger (ACF) is an atrocity that could complicate efforts to bring aid to some 5,000 people trapped in the town of Muttur.

More than 425 people have been killed in the latest round of fighting according to an official count.

“We’re non-combatants and we can’t operate if we are attacked. We would like some form of security guarantee or safe passage,” from both sides, Hovey told AFP as his staff tended to scores of c