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Depleted charities struggle in Sri Lanka

Charities were this week struggling to help thousands of refugees fleeing a guerrilla war being waged in northern Sri Lanka between the government and Tamil separatists.
RedR IHE country director Martin Taylor said that the number of humanitarian workers operating in the war-riven Trincomalee region had been dramatically reduced following the murder of 17 Action Contre la Faim (ACF) engineers two weeks ago (NCE 10 August). ACF has ceased operations in Sri Lanka, leaving Muslim Aid and the United Methodist Committee on Relief as the only two agencies operating in the region. Taylor said that they were being swamped by the estimated 100,000-140,000 people displaced. Refugees are flocking to schools and mosques, Taylor said. The crowds of desperate people are swamping local sanitation and water resources. There have been more than 80 cases of diarrhoea already. 'The agencies are trying to move people on and divide them into smaller groups that will place less strain on resources,' Taylor said. RedR IHE is continuing to provide training for aid workers in Sri Lanka, but it is not involved in supplying and matching engineers to front line roles, Taylor added.

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