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Violence threatens relief work in Lanka: Aid workers

Violence between government forces and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels has spiked in the past few weeks in the north and east.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2006 14:01 IST

Fighting in Sri Lanka is preventing the delivery of much-needed aid to tens of thousands of people displaced in the north and east by clashes between government soldiers and rebels, British relief workers said on Friday.

Military road blocks are limiting access to areas in need, and there are limitations on relief items being allowed in, eight British aid agencies working in Sri Lanka said in a statement.

Violence between government forces and separatist Tamil Tiger rebels has spiked in the past few weeks in the north and east, where the LTTE want to establish a separate homeland for the country's minority 3.2 million Tamils.

Aid agencies estimate that about 100,000 people have fled their homes since late July when the latest round of violence broke out. Most of the fighting has been centred around the eastern port of Trincomalee and northern Jaffna Peninsula, areas that were hit hard by the 2004 tsunami.

Tsunami housing reconstruction and other livelihood projects have been put on hold and staff pulled out of several areas where the shelling has become intense, said Sally Austin of Care, one of the eight agencies calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Aid agencies that had focused on tsunami reconstruction projects were now looking to provide "lifesaving activities" as well as other ongoing development projects, she told The Associated Press.

"Before last week, we wanted to get reconstruction supplies up there, cement and timber and windows and doors.