Conduct of war by Sri Lanka falls well short of accepted norms says CAFOOD

Place: Jaffna | Courtesy: (Catholic Herald
| Date: 19950700

"In a protest against the recent upsurge in attacks on civilians by the Sri Lanka government forces, Julian Filochowski, CAFOD's director, has written to the new UK Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, to express concern about the current violence in the country.

The Sri Lankan army launched a large scale military offensive against the positions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam north of the city of Jaffna last week. Operation 'Leap Forward', involving intensive artillery shelling and air strikes, immediately forced tens of thousands of civilians to leave the area.

About 2000 of the displaced sought shelter in churches and temples, including several hundred people who took refuge in the church of St.Peter and Paul in Navaly. The church and several adjacent buildings were hit by further airforce strikes at 4.30 pm the same day.

During the attack 120 civilians were killed and a further 218 wounded, including women and children. Some of the dead were so badly burnt that relatives were unable to identify their bodies. Sri Lanka Red Cross staff evacuated most of the wounded by ambulance to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital.

In his letter to Mr.Rifkind, Julian Filochowski said CAFOD feels 'that the conduct of the war by the Sri Lankan government falls well short of accepted norms of behaviour'. CAFOD's partners in the Catholic Church in Jaffna have so written to the President of Sri Lanka making a desperate plea for a return to political dialogue and calling for an immediate end to the operation which has already claimed the lives of 220 people and left another 375 with terrible injuries.

CAFOD has committed £30,000 to the relief efforts in Sri Lanka; some of this money will now go to help the 250,000 people displaced since the government offensive began earlier this month." (Catholic Herald, London, UK., 21 July 1995)