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Tens of thousands of children among IDPs

May 1 (IRIN) More than half the 170,000 civilians who have fled fighting in Sri Lanka’s north to government-controlled areas could be children needing care, relief officials warn. Some 100,000 people have fled the fighting since 20 April, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), swelling the numbers in camps to 169,280 as of 29 April. The UNICEF has appealed for US$5 million to help meet the increased needs of those affected and Save the Children UK is appealing for about $3 million. more..

UN blocking release of Sri Lanka satellite images?

May 1 (AN) Fresh satellite images of the war zone in northeast Sri Lanka are available, but the UN agency charged with analysing them is not making them public. The images contain evidence of severe damage from heavy artillery and possibly air strikes, suggesting indiscriminate attacks in areas of high civilian concentration, which could be classed as war crimes carried out by the government of Sri Lanka. more..

‘Karunanidhi had secret talks with Rajapaksa’

May 1 (EB) AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday alleged that her DMK counterpart and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi tried to strike a secret deal with Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa before he commenced his fast on Monday last. Jayalalithaa said as Karunanidhi was jittery about her resolve to create a separate Eelam, “he (Karunanidhi) had appealed to Rajapakse to announce a ceasefire till May 13, the day of polling in Tamil Nadu.” more..

'Swedish FM tried visit without informing govt'

May 1 (CT) Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt had attempted to visit Sri Lanka without informing the government in advance, 'Divaina' says in an article. The newspaper's defence and international correspondent Keerthi Warnakulasuriya says Mr. Bildt is a member of an EU delegation that is due to arrive on May 12. Quoting top-level government sources, the correspondent says this unannounced visit was attempted at the instigation of international forces. more..

Ethnic division displayed in the election

'War crimes shadow' over Sri Lanka: Britain

May 1 (IANS) The international community has rejected calls for suspending Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth although the current conflict in that country is taking place 'in the shadows of war crimes,' a British minister said. Foreign Office Minister Gillian Merron said there was the danger of war crimes being committed because of the Sri Lankan government's decision to keep out international agencies from the area of conflict. more..

Gas suppliers raise prices

May 1 (LBO) Sri Lanka's two liquid petroleum gas suppliers, a unit of multinational Shell Gas, and the locally owned Laugfs Gas, said they will raise prices from midnight Thursday. The price of a 12.5 kilo cylinder of Shell Gas will be increased by 191 rupees to 1,500 rupees and that of the other supplier Laugfs Gas by 238 rupees to 1,307 rupees. Consumer affairs minister Bandula Gunawardena said the price hike was because of higher global petroleum prices and not more government taxes. more..

Protester ends hunger strike over Sri Lanka

May 1 (ES) The Tamil protester who has been on hunger strike in Parliament Square for nearly a month ended his fast today. Paramesweran Subramaniyam, 28, from Mitcham, had vowed to “starve to death” unless there was a ceasefire in Sri Lanka's bloody civil war. But shortly before noon he ended the hunger strike in order to rejoin the continuing demonstrations. Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes said: “He thinks he planted the seeds which he hopes will come to fruition. more..

Basil Rajapaksa visits welfare centers in Chettikulam

May 1 (GDI) Senior Presidential Advisor and Parliamentarian Basil Rajapaksa made an inspection visit to Manik Farm in Chettikulam today (30) to observe the progress of the ongoing humanitarian relief activities. The visit was also aimed at instructing the relevant officials to plan out the next steps of the services provided by the Government, our correspondent from Vavunia said. more..

'Sinhalese and Tamils will perish divided and flourish united'

May 1 (AN) “Divided we will perish, united we will flourish,” said Oswald Gomis, archbishop of Colombo, as he talked about the plight of refugees and the uncertain future of Sinhalese-Tamil relations. Despite a unilateral ceasefire by the Tamil Tigers and the government’s decision to stop using air strikes and heavy weapons in the combat zone, clashes continue and the number of victims keeps rising. more..

War will defeat LTTE, but Eelam concept will become stronger

May 1 (CP) The war could completely defeat the LTTE, but the concept of Eelam will unavoidably become stronger in the future, and the Rajapaksa regime will be responsible for taking the country to that miserable situation, said SLFP Mahajana Wing leader Mangala Samaraweera. Mr. Samaraweera was speaking to the media at the party head office in Rajagiriya. Previously, a handful of Tamils had supported the LTTE, but more..

Field hospital set up in Chettikulam to serve injured cvilians

May 1 (GDI) The field hospital in Chettikulam donated by the Government of France is presently in operation to serve the civilians fleeing the LTTE terrorist and arriving in Government-controlled areas, our correspondent in Vavunia said. The activities of this hospital were observed by the visiting dignitaries of France and Britain yesterday (29) to obtain first-hand impression of the relief efforts underway. more..

Partisan politics on Lanka

May 1 (EB) Tamil Nadu parties are treading treacherous ground in an electoral competition to shore up the LTTE in the name of humanitarian principles. The minor parties set the pace in a desperate bid to whip up Dravida chauvinism to garner votes. The ruling DMK next clambered on the band wagon to prevent the AIADMK from stealing a march over it, saying one thing one day and reinterpreting it the next morning to mean the opposite. more..

AIADMK spreading rumours on Tamils for political gain: Congress

May 1 (IANS) All India Congress Committee general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad Thursday charged the AIADMK-led opposition in Tamil Nadu with 'spreading rumours' about the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils for 'purely petty political reasons'. Azad said: 'The AIADMK and its allies PMK and MDMK are spreading false rumours about the continuing loss of lives of innocent Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka for purely petty political reasons ahead of the polls.' more..

Summary of the cabinet decisions

May 1 (GDI) Cabinet approved a Memorandum submitted by the Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare Keheliya Rambukwella to implement a National Labour Migration Policy for Sri Lanka. The National policy is developed in three main sections. The sections are governance of the migration process, protection of empowerment of migrant workers and their families, linking migration and development process. more..

'Civilians are part of the LTTE concept of war'

May 1 (Rediff) Colonel R Hariharan is a retired military intelligence officer. He is a prolific writer on insurgency and terrorism. His comments on developments in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka are regarded highly professional and rational. He served in Sri Lanka as the head of intelligence for the Indian Peace Keeping Force between 1987 and 1990. His experience in Sri Lanka gives him an edge in understanding of the ethnic conflict. more..

Minister Samarasingha on IDP

Who wants Prabakaran alive or dead?

May 1 (AT) Most of those knowledgeable about the present conflict know how insignificant the demise of the LTTE leader is in context to the overall plan operated by a group of invisible strategists living overseas. Yet, we all await the inevitable announcement of his death, his capture, his fleeing or the realism behind the notion that we may have all been befooled and we had been running behind an impersonator! more..

President’s May Day message

May 1 (GDI) “I will always remember how the working people of our country offered me every support in the endeavour to chart national development in the correct direction. On the one hand, we fearlessly stood up to a brand of terrorism that the entire world believed was invincible. As a result we have been able to step boldly into the Year of Freedom”, President Mahinda Rajapakse stated while issuing a May Day message. more..

President mandated by the people to get the LTTE

May 1 (AT) British Foreign Minister and other advisors MUST not forget that they are dealing with a sovereign country governed by a President mandated by the people to get rid of the LTTE. Britain and many of the Western countries who directly and indirectly provided nourishment to LTTE through the fronts operating in their respective countries having failed to save the LTTE from a military defeat are now on mission to save the LTTE leaders. more..

Officials act to soothe global swine flu fears

May 1 (AFP) World health officials tried to quell growing fears over swine flu on Thursday, as governments braced for a global pandemic and the United States set up a lab in Mexico to help diagnose and test cases. A day after upping its pandemic alert level, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said there was no evidence to suggest it should be raised to the maximum of six, but warned of fresh outbreaks during the southern hemisphere's winter. more..

India asks Lanka for better access to aid agencies

May 1 (HT) India on Thursday joined the rest of the world in asking for better access for humanitarian agencies inside the hastily set up camps for the Tamil refugees who have come out of the 'no fire zone' (NFZ) in the last 10 days. "We believe that there should be greater access for international humanitarian agencies in these camps," High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, Alok Prasad, said on Thursday. more..

Sri Lanka stance earns plaudits

May 1 (NZH) Sri Lanka's honorary consul-general in Wellington, Aruna Abeygoonesekera, has congratulated the Maori Party for blocking a parliamentary motion even though the Maori Party leans towards the Tamil Tigers. A motion moved by Progressives leader Jim Anderton called on both Sri Lankan Government forces and the Tamil Tigers to show restraint in the present conflict so that civilians could escape from danger. more..

Exodus of misery

May 1 (Economist) With loudhailers hitched to the tallest palmyrah trees, Tamil-speaking soldiers of the Sri Lanka army had for weeks been urging civilians inside a dwindling strip of territory held by the rebel Tamil Tigers to break through their cordon and flee. But since April 20th, when the army burst an embankment at Putumattalan, the authorities have been overwhelmed by the thousands pouring out. The Tigers’ defences were less to keep the army out than to fence the civilians in. more..

How about a little taste of Sri Lanka?

May 1 (NJ) Tanya and Sumith DeSilva had two good reasons for opening Sigiri on Route 27 in Edison. One, Sigiri, which may be the state's only Sri Lankan restaurant, is a short drive from Little India, the stretch of Indian restaurants, markets and stores on Oak Tree Road in Edison. Two, the corporate office of SriLankan Airlines is even closer, by the Metropark train station. "I work for my wife, so she can always find me," Sumith DeSilva said, laughing. more..

Maori Party raises a very valid point

May 1 (Scoop) We are an organization mainly consisting of New Zealanders of Sri Lankan origin closely monitoring the current situation in Sri Lanka. As a group that has watched a long and arduous campaign of a democratically elected sovereign government against a band of separatist terrorist group proscribed by world’s leading democracies, we welcome Maori Party’s most sensible action of blocking a motion in New Zealand Parliament on the situation in Sri Lanka. more..

Shape of Sri Lanka's future

May 1 (JT) One of the world's longest running insurgencies might be coming to an end with the Sri Lankan government close to overrunning the last remaining holdouts of the rebel LTTE forces. The Sri Lankan military says that only 500 fighters remain in a narrow patch of territory. By announcing a unilateral ceasefire, the Tigers have demonstrated their rapidly weakening position even as it is clear that the Sri Lankan government will accept nothing less than a surrender. more..

Heart-rending tale of Sri Lankan refugees

May 1 (Hindu) Till a few months ago, life was peaceful for them but the renewed offensive of the Sri Lankan Army on LTTE brought them the kind of misery which none wants to go through. They used to eke out their livelihood by fishing on the high seas but the fighting forced them to flee their homes and forever changed their destinies. Leaving behind everything in their native place, Mullaithivu, a small group of 21 Tamil-speaking fishermen and women set sail on a more..

LTTE defector accuses group of civilian murder

Sri Lanka tea crop falls sharply in March

May 1 (LBO) Sri Lanka's total tea production in March 2009 fell 44 percent to 18.2 million kilos from a year ago owing to drought and reduced crops, the Tea Board said. Tea output in the January-March 2009 period was down 41.6 percent to 48.8 million kilos from 83.5 million kilos in the same 2008 period. Much of the fall in the first quarter came from low grown teas, which make up the bulk of the crop and more..

Sri Lankan minister launches angry attack on David Miliband

May 1 (Telegraph) Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the president's brother raged at the co-ordinated pressure being put on his government by the international community and singled out this week's visit of Mr Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, his French counterpart, as a "waste of time". He spoke after reports of a "stand up row" between him and Mr Miliband during a meeting in Colombo in which more..

A fleeting glimpse of Sri Lanka's hidden war zone

May 1 (Reuters) Getting to the frontline of the Sri Lankan army's war with the Tamil Tigers entailed a hair-rising helicopter trip over the jungle and a bone-jarring ride past scorched homes to the war zone. Foreign journalists and aid groups have generally been kept away from the area where government troops have battled the LTTE for months. On those rare occasions when the government permits a trip to the front, the hazardous journey there and back takes just one day. more..

Ambassador honors scholar's accomplishments

May 1 (IL) The Ambassador of Sri Lanka hosted Ms. Esther Benjamin, her family and friends for dinner recently to recognize Ms. Benjamin’s selection as American University’s School of International Service’s alumna of the year. Ms. Benjamin, who is a native of Sri Lanka, was welcomed to the April 19 reception by Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya at his residence in Washington, D.C. The Ambassador noted how proud all Sri Lankans are to see a fellow Sri Lankan achieving success on the international stage. more..

Civilians in conflict zone

Misinformed New York Times and Sri Lanka’s failed overseas public diplomacy

May 1 (AT) Unlike the hardly read in print and internet editions of the conservative” Washington Times” which carry no political clout or weight among the liberals and center-left liberals who are running the Obama administration the widely read and influential “The New York Times” advocated in its April 30 editorial that “other western nations should join the effort of the United States to more..

Australia opposes the establishment of an ‘'Independent Tamil State in Sri Lanka'

May 1 (AT) Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama speaking to his Australian counterpart the Stephen Smith, on Thursday, appreciated the continuous interest expressed by Australia on the current development in Sri Lanka. He stated that the close dialogue and engagement between the two countries in this manner was an encouragement to Sri Lanka’s efforts. more..

Lankans in Qatar to help war displaced

May 1 (TP) A group of Sri Lankan expatriates in Qatar is planning to launch a project through the Sri Lankan Embassy to assist the large number of civilians who escaped to the government-controlled areas in the northern war front in the country following rescue operations by the security forces. “During the past, many Sri Lankans in Qatar have initiated programmes to help Sri Lankans, but more..

Who says it isn't genocide in Sri Lanka?

May 1 (IL) No civilization wants to see the deaths of thousands regardless of where they were born, to whom they were born, and to what ethnic, religious, linguistic, or racial groups they were born into. However, thousands of people die in the hands of their own state-armed forces who should actually protect them while the rest of the civilized world looks the other way. The world will wait for hundreds of thousands of people to die before they declare it a genocide in Sri Lanka. more..

Bogus ‘Tamil’ politics

May 1 (LG) If Tamil Nadu’s politicians have any sympathy for the Tamils in Sri Lanka, then they should force New Delhi to convince Colombo about the need to rehabilitate Tamil civilians affected by the war on the LTTE and institutionalise the devolution of political power. Who says that Tamil Nadu politicians of all hues cannot enact a soap opera? They can sit in dharna, pretend to resign on cue, go on fast at will and suffer from amnesia when they want. more..

UN council sees no need to punish Sri Lanka

May 1 (Reuters) The members of the U.N. Security Council agree there is no point in punishing Sri Lanka by withholding a $1.9 billion International Monetary Fund loan or other steps, the council's president said on Thursday. "I have not heard anyone suggesting that," Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, president of the 15-nation council, told reporters after an informal session on Sri Lanka. Asked if all members of the council agreed that penalties such as withholding the loan were unnecessary, Heller said, "Absolutely." more..

Wanni Operation 30 th April

'One-man hunt excuse to nullify a national question'

May 1 (TN) Contrary to what is said outside, the real focus of the UN Security Council deliberations is not on the plight of the Tamil civilians, but using their plight as a shield and by manipulating it, the thrust is actually for the hunt or deposition of LTTE leader V. Pirapaharan, in order to blunt the Tamil struggle, news reports hinted Thursday. Inner City Press quoted a senior advisor of Ban Ki-moon saying that more..

Canada uniquely positioned to reactivate and support constructive forms of engagement in Sri Lanka

May 1 (TC) We are writing to express our grave concerns about the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the “safe zone” in the Vanni region of Sri Lanka. Most independent observers estimate that more than 200,000 Tamil civilians, many already displaced multiple times, have been under siege in the tiny coastal strip with at least 50,000 still there. Confirmed reports indicate that more than 6,400 civilians, more..

Sri Lanka says Counter-terrorism must top NAM agenda

May 1 (LG) Addressing the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana yesterday, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hussein A. Bhaila, urged for greater international cooperation in combating terrorism. Praising the Sri Lankan security forces for their successful humanitarian operations, which helped rescue more than 150,000 civilians from the clutches of terrorists in the last ten days, more..

Can there be a permanent political solution under Pirapaharan’s leadership?

May 1 (LG) This feature is particularly relevant to the young Tamil pro-LTTE Diaspora who have made a foolish emotional issue out of the so-called leadership of Velupillai Pirapaharan and the actualities that face him and have made a global exposition of their immature and imprudent adulation of a mass killer who has no political ideology except that he and he alone can be the sole voice of the Tamils having decimated just about everyone who took a different stand. more..

Don’t let extremists hijack Tamil issue

May 1 (LG) The armed conflict in Sri Lanka is nearing its denouement. In the days ahead, we are likely to witness the demise of the LTTE as a guerilla force, if not as a terrorist outfit. As the LTTE convulses in the throes of Sri Lankan military torsion, international opinion is rightly focused on the plight of the Tamils caught between the warring forces. Yet, it is important to understand the reasons for the LTTE’s precipitous decline; for herein lies a clue to India’s approach to the crisis. more..

IDP shelter assessment for Civilian Safety Zone (CSZ)

May 1 (LG) A satellite-derived estimate based on automatic detection methods, indicates there are approximately 31,400 buildings / shelters within the CSZ and approximately 800 additional shelters immediately outside the zone as of 6 March 2009. This is an increase of approximately 18,200 from the count estimate of 13,200 on 19 February, and a total increase of over 28,700 from 5 February 2009. more..

'Civilian resettlement is already in progress'

May 1 (GDI) “Aid organizations should be honest in helping civilians who have fled from the terrorists’ clutches. International agencies are engaged in a futile attempt to create fissures among communities under the pretext of assisting Sri Lanka. The government will not allow international organisations to sow the seeds of disunity and division among communities,” MP Basil Rajapaksa said more..

LTTE won first round in the cyber war: Hacked Army and Lankapuwath websites

May 1 (AT) The official website of Sri Lanka Army, and one of another Sri Lanka Government’s site - Lanka Puwath have been hacked by suspected LTTE hackers this morning. However Army Website is now back on the cyberspace. Sources of lanka puwath said, measures are taken to restore the website soon. Issuing a flash story by the said, Sri Lanka Army’s official news wing has been illegally hacked and more..

Break-away LTTE commanders get high positions exchange for combat support

May 1 (AT) Continue to stress that the Government of Sri Lanka has harnessed para military cadre of the breakaway LTTE commanders Karuna and Pilliayan to fight the LTTE which the U.S. has criticized in many State Department reports the United States in its just released Country report on Terrorism cast an aspersion that the two commanders were posted to high positions in exchange of their services. more..