Peace broker Norway offers help to Sri Lanka victims

Aug 3, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s peace broker Norway Thursday announced a pledge of 1.5 million dollars to help civilians caught up in the island’s latest upsurge in violence. The Norwegian government, in a statement issued in Colombo, said Oslo would provide the assistance in humanitarian aid through the International Committee of the Red Cross and other non-governmental agencies.

“The fighting affects a large number of innocent civilians belonging to different ethnic groups, and there is great need for emergency relief,” the statement said. “Particularly the Muslims have been severely affected.”

The statement came as the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels blamed each other for shelling three Muslim schools in the island’s northeast where at least 17 civilians were killed and over 60 were wounded Thursday.

Norway has been trying to broker peace in Sri Lanka since 2000 and managed to arrange a truce in february 2002. However, political talks aimed at ending decades of separatist conflict remain deadlocked.