Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday accused the Sri Lankan army of using refugees living near a shrine as human shields in their fight against Tamil Tiger rebels.
    Catholic World News reports that the bishop said in a letter to President Chandrika Kumaratunga said the presence of military forces in Madhu endangered the lives of 10,000 refugees seeking shelter from the fighting. "The recent entry of the Sri Lankan army .. and its continued presence in large numbers with its war machineries and weapons using the innocent refugees as its human shields is religiously very painful and humanly untenable," Bishop Joseph said in the letter.
    "Besides, its precincts had since 1990 become a haven of war-refugees and is functioning at the moment as also an Open Relief Center under the international mandate of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) housing at present over 10,000 refugees in its 400-acre sacred precincts," he added.
    The Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting Sri Lanka's government since 1983 for a separate homeland for Tamils in the country's north and east.

7/04/99 10:41:08 / Catholic World News


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