Sri Lanka to give aid to refugees fleeing violence

Apr. 27 (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Thursday set aside one million dollars in aid for thousands of people who fled their homes after an upsurge in violence in the northeast. President Mahinda Rajapakse named a retired naval officer to head a “Presidential Task Force” to allocate the relief money to displaced civilians, an official at the president’s office said.

“The idea is to get essential supplies delivered to these people without further delay,” the official said.

He said they had no confirmed figure for the number of people who had fled their homes in the district of Trincomalee, 260 kilometres (160 miles) northeast of Colombo since Tuesday when government launched air strikes against suspected Tamil Tiger rebel positions.

The rebels said about 40,000 people were displaced in areas under their control within Trincomalee.

Lyndon Jeffels, spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency, said it was clear that “a very significant displacement” involving thousands was underway. The government said air strikes were an act of self-defence after Tamil Tiger rebels carried out a suicide assassination attempt against army chief Sarath Fonseka, who survived. Ten othe