Sri Lanka govt, Tigers slammed by Amnesty over civilians in war zone

November 19, 2008 (AFP) – Amnesty International on Wednesday said Sri Lanka was unable to provide for the basic needs of 300,000 people trapped inside rebel-held areas and accused Tiger guerrillas of using them as human shields. “The abuses carried out by the LTTE make our call for international monitors to be allowed to visit conflict-affected areas even more pressing. These families must not be forgotten and left to suffer in a war zone,” Zarifi said.

There was no immediate comment from the Tigers, but Sri Lanka’s foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama brushed aside Amnesty’s claims that the government was unable to look after the internally displaced.

“Amnesty’s information is not right. There is absolutely no shortage of food, medicine or any essential item in the Wanni. No one has died due to starvation. There is no outbreak of epidemic diseases,” he told reporters here.

Amnesty also urged Sri Lanka and the LTTE to give international monitors access to those “trapped” in the conflict.

As troops pushed to dismantle the LTTE’s northern stronghold of Kilinochchi within the Wanni, the government ordered aid workers out of the area in September, leaving only a small number of Red Cross workers.