Tamils seek aid for displaced people

MELBOURNE — Two hundred Tamils gathered outside Victoria's parliament building on August 22 to highlight the plight of hundreds of thousands of Tamils displaced by fighting between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The Sri Lankan army is carrying out an offensive in an attempt to capture territory held by the LTTE. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, an estimated 60,000 people were displaced by this fighting in July alone.

The protest, organised by the Tamil Youth Organisation, urged the Australian government to call for an end to the human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government in the north and east of Sri Lanka (the traditional Tamil areas), and to assist in bringing aid to the displaced people. Mahenda Rajah, president of the Eelam Tamil Association (Victoria), described the "serious shortages in shelter, access to health care, food, water and sanitation facilities", and urged the Australian government to "persuade the Sri Lankan government to permit the humanitarian agencies of the UN and the NGOs to carry out their work without any interference".