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April 27, 2009

Refugees in Sri Lanka

It has been just over a month since the last time the Sri Lankan conflict was featured here. In that time, government forces have put further pressure on the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and hundreds of thousands of civilians in the north of the country have been trapped in a war zone. Press coverage is still very limited, and conflicting stories are the norm, with LTTE representatives claiming the ethnic Tamil civilians are staying willingly, fearful of government forces, and the Sri Lankan government claiming the civilians are being held against their will by the LTTE. According to the UN, over 6,500 civilians have been killed, thousands more injured, and a stream of over 100,000 refugees has recently left the LTTE stronghold, and the Sri Lankan government has halted the use of heavy-caliber weaponry. (31 photos total)

This undated picture released on April 25, 2009 by pro-LTTE website Tamilnet shows civilians taking cover after what they say is an explosion caused by a goverment airstrike in the no-fire zone in Mullaitivu district. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes was to hold talks with the Sri Lankan government over the thousands of civilians caught in fighting between troops and Tamil rebels, officials said.The Sri Lankan government has resisted all calls to halt an offensive that is now on the brink of wiping out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels, who have been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland since 1972. (AFP/Getty Images)

This handout photo released by the Sri Lankan Army on April 22, 2009 shows what is claimed to be civilians fleeing from an area controlled by Tamil Tigers in the northeast of the island on April 21, 2009. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images) #

In this photo released by the Sri Lankan army Tuesday, April 21, 2009, ethnic Tamil civilians who escaped from the Tamil Tiger controlled areas are seen arriving Monday, April 20, 2009 at the government controlled areas in Putumattalan, north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Sri Lankan Army) #

A Sri Lankan soldier pushes a woman on a bicycle in front of an open area strewn with people's belongings near the village of Putumatalan in Puthukkudiyirippu, northern Sri Lanka April 22, 2009 after fleeing an area still controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the No Fire Zone. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

In this handout photograph released by the Sri Lankan navy on April 21, 2009 shows what the military says are thousands of people fleeing an area by boats from a beach controlled by the Tamil Tiger separatists in northeastern Sri Lanka. In the third day since troops blasted through a massive earthen wall built by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and unleashed the exodus, the military said 81,420 people had been registered for onward transit to refugee camps. (REUTERS/Sri Lankan Government) #

A Sri Lankan Tamil girl who recently crossed into the government-controlled area walks with a bottle of water and a packet of biscuits near the war zone of Putumatalan in Puthukudiyiruppu, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, April 24, 2009. (AP Photo/ Eranga Jayawardena) #

Civilians arrive at the village of Putumatalan in Puthukkudiyirippu, northern Sri Lanka April 22, 2009 after fleeing an area still controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the No Fire Zone. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

A government soldier looks over civilians who arrived east of the village of Putumatalan in Puthukkudiyirippu, northern Sri Lanka April 24, 2009 after fleeing an area still controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). (REUTERS/Stringer) #

A Sri Lankan government soldier lies injured on a stretcher as another mans a machine-gun in a helicopter lifting off from the town of Kilinochchi located near the No Fire Zone in northern Sri Lanka April 24, 2009. (REUTERS/David Gray) #

In this picture received on April 22, 2009 a child believed to be a Tamil injured in fighting between Sri Lankan government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels lies on the floor while awaiting medical treatment in Valaignardam. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #

Injured civilians lie on the ground in a makeshift hospital in this photograph released by the pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) group 'Mercy Mission to Vanni' on April 20, 2009 showing what they say are wounded civilians who were fleeing from an area still controlled by the LTTE in the No Fire Zone near the village of Putumatalan in Puthukkudiyirippu, northeastern Sri Lanka. (REUTERS/Mercy Mission to Vanni) #

In this handout picture released by the pro-Tamil rebel LTTE Website Tamil Net Tuesday, April 21, 2009, an ethnic Tamil family is seen lying dead, allegedly killed by shells fired by government security forces at a makeshift shelter in the war zone in Maaththalan, near Puthukuddyiruppu, Sri Lanka. The government has repeatedly denied killing civilians by shelling.(AP Photo/Tamil Net) #

Civilians, some of the more than 100,000 that have fled the area held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), hold food and water they were handed by Sri Lankan government soldiers in the town of Putumatalan located near the No Fire Zone in northern Sri Lanka April 24, 2009. (REUTERS/David Gray) #

Sri Lankan government soldiers walk past destoyed buildings in the town of Putumatalan located near the No Fire Zone in northern Sri Lanka April 24, 2009. (REUTERS/David Gray) #

A Sri Lankan government soldier wearing a face mask and goggles rides in an armoured personal carrier on the outskirts of the town of Putumatalan located near the No Fire Zone in northern Sri Lanka April 24, 2009. (REUTERS/David Gray) #

An elderly Sri Lankan Tamil sits among the rubble of a village near Puthukkudiyiruppu on April 24, 2009. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Sri Lankan soldier looks on as he mans a bunker near the war zone in Puthukudiyiruppu, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, April 24, 2009. (AP Photo/ Eranga Jayawardena) #

This undated photo released by the Sri Lankan army on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, Sri Lankan soldiers distribute food parcels to ethnic Tamil civilians who fled the Tamil tiger-controlled areas near the war zone in Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/Sri Lankan Army) #

A Sri Lankan soldier is seen through a blast hole as he hands out food rations to displaced Tamil civilians at Puthumathalan on April 24, 2009. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Sri Lankan government soldier looks across to a trail of smoke coming from inside the No Fire Zone near the town of Putumatalan located in northern Sri Lanka April 24, 2009. (REUTERS/David Gray) #

In this photo taken on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 a Tamil woman holds a malnourished child at a makeshift hospital inside the war zone in Putumattalan, Sri Lanka. (AP Photo) #

A Sri Lankan tank fires a shell towards Mullaitivu, where fights between the Sri Lanka army and the LTTE are taking place, in northeast Sri Lanka March 24, 2009. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

Civilians arrive at the village of Putumatalan in Puthukkudiyirippu, northern Sri Lanka April 22, 2009 after fleeing an area still controlled by the LTTE in the No Fire Zone. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

An internally displaced Tamil woman tries to dry some soaked currency notes at a camp for the displaced in Manik Farm in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 26, 2009. (AP Photo/ Sanath Priyantha) #

In this undated photo released by the Sri Lankan army on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, an ethnic Tamil couple arrives at the government-controlled areas as they hold their child near the war zone in northern Sri Lanka. (AP Photo/ Sri Lankan Army) #

A Sri Lankan solidier watches as a helicopter carrying journalists lands in the northern town of Kilinochi on April 24, 2009. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images) #

Ethnic women with children walk near barbed wire at an internally displaced camp set up for Tamils who escaped the war zone, in Vavuniya, about 254 km (158 miles) north of Colombo, April 4, 2009. (REUTERS/ Stringer) #

United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes talks with civilians during a visit to a refugee camp located near the town of Manik in northern Sri Lanka April 27, 2009. (REUTERS/United Nations) #

Sri Lankan soldiers advance towards the war zone of Putumattalan in Puthukudiyiruppu, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, April 24, 2009. (AP Photo/ Eranga Jayawardena) #

This handout photo released by the Sri Lankan Army on April 22, 2009 shows what is claimed to be civilians fleeing from an area controlled by Tamil Tigers in the northeast of the island on April 21, 2009. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images) #

A woman crouches in front of rows of tents as United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes visits the refugee camp located near the town of Manik in northern Sri Lanka April 27, 2009. Holmes arrived amid mounting pressure on the LTTE to surrender, and the government to halt its offensive to wipe out a foe it has fought since 1983. (REUTERS/United Nations) #
 
An interactive Google Map of northern Sri Lanka, where government forces have cornered LTTE rebels and thousands of civilians remain trapped. View Larger Map #



 
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