GENEVA, Switzerland, April 22 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross is calling on the Sri Lankan army and rebel forces in the northeast to prevent mass civilian casualties.
Pierre Krahenbuhl, ICRC director of operations, called the escalating situation in the northeast of Sri Lanka, where government forces are fighting the remaining Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels, a catastrophe for civilians, the ICRC reported.
The intensity of the conflict has increased as the Sri Lankan army continues to push into LTTE territory that is growing smaller by the day. Krahenbuhl warned that despite an estimated 80,000 people reported by the Sri Lankan government to have fled the volatile region since Monday, more needs to be done to prevent further mass casualties among civilians.
"The hostilities are now taking place in a very narrow stretch of land along the eastern coastline of Sri Lanka," Krahenbuhl said in a statement.
"And within that narrow stretch, which had been declared a no-fire zone by the government, tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped. ... They have repeatedly been prevented from leaving the area by the LTTE and are exposed at every turn to consequences of the hostilities between the government and the LTTE."