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World Bank Projects for Sri Lanka Approved January 8th, 2010

The following World Bank projects for Sri Lanka have been approved:

Sri Lanka: Emergency Northern Recovery Project

$65 million to rapidly return internally displaced people (IDPs), largely ethnic Tamils, to their places of origin in the Northern Province and restore their social and economic lives. The project is expected to reach a total of about 100,000 IDPs.  Read more.

Sri Lanka: Provincial Roads Project

$105 million to improve access to socio-economic centers in Eastern, Northern, and Uva Provinces through the sustainable management of improved road infrastructure. The project will rehabilitate provincial roads, develop and implement an effective maintenance strategy, and strengthen the capacity of the Provincial Council Road Development Departments to plan and manage budgets within a framework of fiscal constraint.  Read more.


Expert Witnesses Detail IDP Situation in Sri Lanka December 17th, 2009

refugees in Sri LankaThree panels of expert witnesses testified on December 10, Humam Rights Day, about current realities facing internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in northern and Eastern Sri Lanka. The government’s recent decision finally to allow the resettlement of displaced Tamil civilians who had been held in internment camps since the end of a brutal war in May was commended. At the same time, concern was expressed about inconsistencies in policies governing the recent releases, continued lack of access by humanitarian organizations (including the UN) to IDPs in resettlement areas and former LTTE cadres in detention centers, the safety of released IDPs and the need for further de-mining of formerly populated areas.

The following Issue experts testified:

  • Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary for Population, Migration and Refugees, U.S. Department of State (Download PDF of testimony)
  • Michel Gabaudan, regional representative for the United States of America and the Caribbean, UNHCR (Download PDF of testimony)
  • Miriam Young, US Counsel on Sri Lanka
  • Christoph Koettl, Amnesty International (Download PDF of testimony)
  • Robert Oberst, Nebraska Wesleyan University
  • Jennifer Leonard, International Crisis Group

Sri Lanka: Repeated Shelling of Hospitals Evidence of War Crimes May 11th, 2009

mullivaikkal-hospital-under-shell-attack-on-30-may-2009-at-9-am-cp

Mullivaikkal hospital shelled on 3 May 2009 at 9 am

With 30 attacks reported on medical facilities since December, Human Right Watch warns that commanders responsible for such attacks may be prosecuted for war crimes.

The Sri Lankan armed forces have repeatedly struck hospitals in the northern Vanni region in indiscriminate artillery and aerial attacks according to the respected international human right monitoring organization.

One of the deadliest of these attacks on medical facilities took place on May 2, when artillery shells struck Mullaivaikal hospital in the government-declared “no-fire zone,” killing 68 persons and wounding 87.

Government medical personnel in the war zone carefully report the GPS coordinates to the government in a vain effort to protect the facilities in the intense bombardment of the crowded area. An estimated 100,000 civilians are trapped between the two armies, unable to escape the fighting.

“Hospitals are supposed to be sanctuaries from shelling, not targets,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “While doctors and nurses struggle to save lives in overcrowded and under-equipped facilities, Sri Lankan army attacks have hit one hospital after another.”

The Oblate JPIC office has joined Human Rights Watch in criticizing both the Sri Lankan armed forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for numerous violations of the laws of war during the recent fighting.

Read the full report from HR Watch.


President Obama Speaks Out on Behalf of Sri Lanka Journalist May 3rd, 2009

j_s_tissainayagamPresident Obama supported detained journalist J.S. Tissainayagam in Sri Lanka in his May 1st speech on World Press Freedom Day. He spoke of those “…who face intimidation, censorship, and arbitrary arrest – [who are] guilty of nothing more than a passion for truth and a tenacious belief that a free society depends on an informed citizenry.”

Mr. Tissainaygam has been held for over a year, on charges that are widely believed to be without substance.

Click here to read more »


Civilians Bear the Brunt of War in Sri Lanka April 28th, 2009

Conditions are grim in the tiny strip of coast in northern Sri Lanka where tens of thousands of civilians are trapped between the warring LTTE and Sri Lankan Army forces. Lack of food, water and medical supplies coupled with daily bombardment by heavy artillery have made this area a living hell.

UN sources have estimated that 6,432 civilians have been killed since January 20 of this year while another 13,946 have been wounded. This does not include all the bodies that are lying by the roadsides. We have received reports that today, numerous people were killed while 1,374 were injured and admitted to two hospitals. A health clinic was bombed killing people in the injured patient’s ward.

International calls to both sides to stop the fighting have fallen on deaf ears. The ICRC has been able to evacuate some 4,000 people in recent weeks, mostly severely wounded by Army bombing, but many more have been unable to get out, forcibly detained as a human shield by the LTTE. Civilians, as young as 12, have been forcibly conscripted by the LTTE in a desperate effort to fend off the military advance.

Click here to read more »


Support Humanitarian Relief and a Political Settlement in Sri Lanka March 5th, 2009

Please ask your Representative to join this action to support humanitarian relief and a political settlement in Sri Lanka. Sign-ons are being accepted until noon on Monday, March 9th. See details below.
Congressman Jim Moran is asking his congressional colleagues to join him in sending the following letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice urging them to continue steps to address the grave humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and to work for a sustainable political settlement after the decades-long fighting ends.

Up to 200,000 civilians are trapped in northern Sri Lanka, amid fighting between Sri Lankan Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Most have been cut off from outside food and medical supplies for weeks. Many have died from heavy artillery and air attacks and people are beginning to die of starvation. Human Rights Watch reports that 2,000 Tamil civilians have been killed since January, and 7,000 civilians have been wounded.

U.S. engagement thus far has achieved some important results. The Congressional action encourages further action to press for full protection of all civilians, greater engagement by United Nations agencies and others in humanitarian relief, and progress toward a lasting political settlement that includes ethnic Tamils in national governance. U.S. engagement both bilaterally with the Sri Lankan Government and at the United Nations is critical to saving lives and contributing to a better future for Sri Lanka, whose citizens have suffered greatly during a 25-year war.

Download PDF of Congressional letter to Secretary Clinton

Download PDF of Congressional letter to Ambassador Rice

Please tell your representative that to sign on, contact Tasha Manoranjan of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s office at 225-2015 or Tasha.Manoranjan@mail.house.gov, or David Young of Rep. Jim Moran’s office at 225-3979 or david.young@mail.house.gov. The deadline to sign these letters is Monday March 9, at noon.

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