COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The Sri Lankan government's ongoing military campaign in the country's northern Vanni district is taking a growing toll on civilians in the region.
Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross operating in the volatile north of Sri Lanka Monday evacuated 400 wounded civilians and their families. The ICRC transported the group by ferry to Trincomalee, a city in the northeast of Sri Lanka outside the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam stronghold, the ICRC reported.
The Sri Lankan army at the end of a cease-fire in January 2008 led a campaign targeting the LTTE, a rebel group considered a terrorist organization by the United States and much of the West. The transport of wounded civilians Tuesday marked the third evacuation by the Geneva-based organization since Feb. 9.
"Families continue to arrive … in a state of utter exhaustion and despair, hoping to be treated and rescued," Paul Castella, head of the ICRC delegation in Sri Lanka, said in a statement.
"But the reality is that there is an almost complete lack of medicine and relief items there. We did save lives, but many people remain behind, helpless and anxiously waiting to be evacuated. It is now a matter of life and death."