Community leaders warn of an imminent humanitarian crisis after more than 30,000 Muslims were forced to escape their homes in the Muslim-majority port city of Muttur, which lies in the northeastern district of Trincomaleem. "Many Muslims have gone as far as Colombo, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura and Kandy in search of shelter…. It is perhaps the largest Muslim refugee problem outside of Lebanon," said Basheer Segu Dawood, chairman of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and also a member of parliament.
"In just one school building at Kantalai (in Trincomalee district), around 13,000 people are packed. They have nothing except the clothes they were in when they fled Mutur. There are just two or three toilets. Can you imagine what people are going through?" Basheer wondered. "There is so much fear now that children fear even the sound of motorcycles. Many do not want to return to Mutur. They fear everyone. The LTTE also took away some Muslim men for questioning. We don't know their fate," he added.
Fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels broke out late last month when the Sri Lankan army launched a massive ground offensive to take control of the Maavilaru reservoir which supplies water to more than 50,000 people in an army-held area. More than 160 people have been killed, and at least 100 others wounded in the fighting so far. Basheer said that Muslim leaders urge the co-chairs of Sri Lanka's peace process (Norway, Japan, the United States and European Union), as well as the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and India to support their beleaguered community.
"This is the biggest refugee crisis Muslims have been battling since the LTTE forced out thousands of Muslims from Jaffna in the early 1990s," he said. "We want the co-chairs to hold an emergency meeting to discuss our plight. This is a humanitarian crisis. We have approached India. We want the OIC to act." Several Muslim leaders accuse the Sri Lankan government of targeting civilian areas, and Basheer said that this refugee crisis happened "because the military shelled Mutur badly and they did not listen to our desperate pleas to stop the shelling."
More than 18 Muslim civilians have been killed last Thursday when shells hit the schools they were hiding in during fierce fighting between Sri Lankan forces and Tamil Tigers rebels in Murtur. Basheer also slammed Colombo and the Tamil Tiger rebels for the Muslim suffering. "The government says it won the Mutur battle, the Tigers claim they achieved their objectives. But people suffered and the government failed to give security in an area it governed. People are now refugees. Is this not a fact?' Muslims make up eight percent of Sri Lanka's 20 million population. Although the Sri Lankan Muslim community doesn't support the government or the Tigers, it is accused by both sides of collaborating with the other.
Source: Islamonline.comGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16