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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
On June 29, 2000, 14 US Congressmen (Michael E. Capuano, John Edward Porter, Carolyn Maloney, Jim McGovern, Lloyd Doggett, Brad Sherman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, John F. Tierney, Tom Lantos, Robert Brady, Bob Clement, Henry A. Waxman, Robert A. Borski, and Nancy Pelosi) appealed to Sri Lanka President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to secure the safety of Tamil refugees in the Jaffna Peninsula. The text of their letter read:
"Dear Madam President:
We are writing to express our concern for the refugees who are trapped within the Jaffna Peninsula amid fighting between government forces and the Tamil guerrillas. We ask that the government of Sri Lanka make every effort to secure the safety of these refugees.
Since the escalation of the conflict between the Sri Lankan authorities and the Tamil guerrillas in 1995, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced within Sri Lanka. Nearly 75% of persons internally displaced in Sri Lanka are women and children.
Due to the most recent outbreak of violence, we have heard reports that the number of refugees in northern Sri Lanka has doubled to more than 16,000 in the past few weeks.
Moreover, International aid workers estimated that the war has driven 150,000 people from their homes.
Many residents of the Jaffna peninsula have sought shelter in temples, mosques and churches, but basic necessities like food and medicine are in short supply. Telephone lines to the peninsula have been cut, and journalists are prohibited from traveling to the battle zone, making it difficult to assess how devastating the impact has been on the civilian population.
Furthermore, there are reports that civilians have been killed by artillery fire and bombings.
We are particularly impressed with the role the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has played in advocating for the protection of basic rights and the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Sri Lanka, and we hope that these two impartial organizations can play a greater role in securing the safety of the Jaffna refugees.
While we respect your government's sovereignty to handle internal conflicts and preserve national security, we request that the Sri Lankan government do everything within its power to permit international aid agencies (specifically UNHCR and ICRC) to help innocent civilians in the Jaffna Peninsula trapped between government troops and rebels move to safer areas to be determined by UNHCR and the ICRC. We thank you for your attention to this important matter."