Sri Lanka 'forced returns' decried

The UN's refugee agency has said it is concerned that hundreds of Sri Lankans have been forcibly returned to their homes by security forces despite continuing violence.

Sri Lanka 'forced returns' decried

The UN's refugee agency has said it is concerned thathundreds of Sri Lankans have been forcibly returned to their homes by securityforces despite continuing violence.

The UNHCR said hundreds of people were forced on to buses bypolice in the eastern city of Batticaloaon Thursday, where 152,000 people are registered as internally displaced.

Witnesses said women and children were forced to leavedespite pleas that husbands and other children were still at work or school.

The organisation said the Sri Lankan government had assuredit that it would be involved in any future moves to return internally displacedpeople.

The US-based rights group Human Rights Watch also condemnedthe forced transfers.

Brad Adams, the group's Asiadirector said: "The Sri Lankan government says it will never forcecivilians to return home after they have been displaced by fighting ... Butthere is clear and incontrovertible evidence that forced returns havebegun."

More than 750 individuals had been sent north to Trincomaleedistrict under a plan to return some 2,800 internally displaced persons, HumanRights Watch said.

"The government must only return people with their freeconsent, and provide aid and security for all those who decide to stay untilconditions improve."

Unsafe areas

The United Nations says more than 40,000 of 125,000displaced persons in Batticaloa have fled fighting in the past week.

Thousands of people fled Trincomalee in August afterfighting erupted between government forces and the Tamil Tigers.

Human Rights Watch reported that civilians it hadinterviewed in the area said they were afraid to go home because of thesecurity situation, fearing fresh fighting and expressing concern over reprisalkillings.

Tiger rebels have been waging an armed campaign forindependence from Sri Lankafor more than three decades.

Fresh fighting

Fighting continued on Friday as four soldiers were killedand 12 seriously wounded in clashes with Tamil Tiger rebels in northern Sri Lanka, theAFP news agency reported.

Security forces tried to advance towards positions of theLiberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Vavuniya district, but werebeaten back by heavy mortar bomb fire by the rebels, military sources said.

The Sri Lankan military also shot dead a suspected TamilTiger rebel after he tried to blow himself up at a checkpoint in the restivenorthern Jaffnapeninsula, an official said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Upali Rajapakse of the Media Centre forNational Security in Colombo said: "Asoldier shot and killed a suicide cadre who tried to embrace another soldier ata checkpoint in Jaffna.The body and the suicide jacket are there."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16