News

    Tamil Tigers Claim 150,000 Civilians on Brink of Starvation

    Rebels in Sri Lanka claim some 150,000 people are on the brink of starvation in the territory held by the Tamil Tigers in the northeast.  The Sri Lankan government says the rebels are to blame for the plight of the civilians in the remaining area controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.  The accusations come amid rising international concern over mass civilian suffering in the dwindling war zone.

    A posting on a pro-rebel Web site, attributed to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, claims 150,000 civilians are on the brink of starvation.

    Sri Lanka's government says the civilians - it puts the number at no more than 10,000 - are hostages of the rebels, who claim the military is blocking desperately needed food.

    The head of the Defense Ministry's media center, Lakshman Hulugalle, tells VOA News it is the Tigers who are to blame for anyone starving on the northeastern coast.

    "What we have sent to those areas is not being distributed to the innocent people. It's been robbed by LTTE. This is the only government in the world feeding terrorists and fighting against terrorists," he said.

    A United Nations spokesman tells VOA the world body has "no information about government food going in" recently to the affected area. It says at least 50,000 people are trapped by the fighting.

    The Tamil Tigers have seen their territory shaved down to less than eight square kilometers amid a final offensive by the military.

    Defense spokesman Hulugalle says the rebel remnants - he estimates at 200 to 300 combatants - could be instantly vanquished if not for the precautions government forces are taking to minimize civilian casualties.

    "For the Sri Lanka government and for the forces it's a matter of a few hours. If not for these innocent Tamils we should have crushed LTTE within hours," he said.

    The United Nations' humanitarian chief, John Holmes, is to meet Sunday here with government officials. The United Nations says he will push for enhanced humanitarian missions in and around the conflict zone where access to the tens of thousands of displaced people is very limited.

    The White House, in a statement, is calling on both sides to immediately cease fighting and allow civilians to exit the conflict area. It says aid organizations and journalists should have access to those refugees who have already escaped.


    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora