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Aid blocked by Sri Lankan violence

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, May 12 (UPI) -- The ongoing fighting between the Sri Lankan government and rebels in the northeast of the country is preventing the Red Cross from being able to deliver aid.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday it was again prevented from gaining access to civilians trapped in a conflict between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels and military units from the Sri Lankan government because of heavy fighting, ICRC reported.

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The ICRC ferries are routinely under threat from violence in the region while attempting to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid.

"Lack of security forced our ferry to stay offshore for the entire day today, only (miles) from the conflict area," Paul Castella, ICRC delegation head in Sri Lanka, said in a statement.

"As night approached, it had to sail back to its base further south in Pulmoddai, (Sri Lanka). Evacuating the wounded and sick -- among them children and elderly people -- whose lives are in danger is the only way they will be able to receive suitable medical treatment; they need to be evacuated as soon as possible."

The mounting death toll of trapped civilians has been increasingly criticized by the international community. Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, Amnesty International and the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect collectively sent a letter Monday to Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso calling on the country to take a more active stance against the ongoing conflict.

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