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Thousands still trapped in north violence

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, April 30 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday more needs to be done to help thousands of civilians trapped in the northern Sri Lankan conflict.

An estimated 50,000 civilians remain trapped by the Sri Lankan army's ongoing military offensive targeting the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the north of the country.

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Wednesday a delegation from Europe traveled to Sri Lanka in a move to persuade the government to agree to a cease-fire. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday rejected the cease-fire appeal. Additionally Thursday top LTTE leader Balasingam Nadesan ruled out surrendering to the Sri Lankan army.

The ICRC, which has been working to evacuate endangered civilians, called the situation a catastrophe and said more needs to be done.

"Given the catastrophic situation of thousands of displaced, sick and wounded people still in the conflict area, the parties must do more to protect them and must allow more food and medicine into the area," Monica Zanarelli, ICRC deputy head of operations for South Asia, said in a statement.

The United Nations estimates that approximately 6,500 civilians have died in the region since late January.

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