UNITED NATIONS, March 6 (UPI) -- The growing number of civilian deaths stemming from the military conflict in northern Sri Lanka drew condemnation Thursday from the head of the United Nations.
The Sri Lankan army has successfully pushed the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to the last of their strongholds in the north of the country. However, the condensed conflict zone has trapped as many as 200,000 civilians and has resulted in a mounting civilian death toll, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE rebels Thursday to halt the fighting for the "purposes of allowing civilians to leave the conflict zone and allowing immediate humanitarian access to them," according to a news release.
Officials said the no-fire zone established for civilians is overcrowded and has little food or humanitarian aid. The no-fire zone is also under threat from widespread disease infections.