by Amanda Morrow
Article published on the 2009-04-12 Latest update 2009-04-12 14:25 TU
"The situation is very desperate," says Anne Marie Loof, from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). She has just returned to Amsterdam from northern Sri Lanka and told RFI about the civilians' situation.
"There are an estimated 150,000 civilians trapped in a very small area - about 20 square kilometres – on the north-east coast of Sri Lanka," she says.
"The people who are trapped do not have proper shelter, so they live under plastic sheeting. They do not have enough food and there is not enough clean drinking water. There is not enough medicine and on top of that the rainy season has started."
People who had managed to flee the area held by the Tamil Tiger guerrillas (LTTE), told aid workers that the rebels are very reluctant to let people go and sometimes try to physically stop people from leaving.
"We [MSF] are present in hospitals in the north and the south of the conflict zone," she says. "We have surgical teams and we treat patients who have been evacuated. We see a lot of gunshot and shrapnel wounds, so I do know that there are people getting injured inside the safety zone.
"People are very anxious. It is a very traumatic situation to be displaced from your home, to lose touch with your loved ones and to be stuck in such horrible circumstances on that beach."
Loof says that the population is traumatised by the conflict.
"All the people who we have talked to have seen civilians get wounded and die in front of them so people are really in shock and very very anxious," she reports.
2009-04-12 11:15 TU
2009-04-12 11:16 TU