Sri Lanka conflict exacerbates malnutrition: charity body

COLOMBO, Sept 19, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s lengthy separatist conflict is compounding problems of malnutrition on the island, an international charity said Wednesday. “The prevailing conflict and the frequency of droughts, floods and landslides have further increased poverty and reduced people’s access to food,” Action Aid senior official Rohitha Rajindra said in a statement.

Nearly a million Sri Lankans have been driven out their homes after years of fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels, who want an independent homeland.

The conflict has also claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.

Around a quarter of homes in Sri Lanka fall within the category of “poor households,” according to Action Aid, as it urged the government in Colombo to work with aid agencies to deliver food to the needy.

“No Sri Lankan should go to bed hungry,” Rajindra added.

International aid agencies and other organisations say although no lives have been directly lost in Sri Lanka to famine, nearly half the population earn below two dollars a day. Malnutrition among children is common and in rural communities seven out of ten people have no access to electricity,