The savage warfare and the well-documented human rights abuses by both sides of the entrenched conflict in Sri Lanka seems to have been going on for so long that it can be easy to forget about just how terrible the current situation is for the thousands of Tamil civilians currently trapped in the so-called “no-fire zone”.

Likening the situation to a scene out of Dante’s Inferno, Human Rights Watch says that instead of this zone being

“a place where trapped civilians could flee to safety from fighting between the army and the Tamil Tigers, this tiny strip of land has become a killing ground where the Tigers … use tens of thousands of Tamil civilians as human shields, physically preventing them from escaping to safety, while the Sri Lankan army shells the area with devastating consequences.”

They go on to say that

the UN estimates that since January more than 6,400 civilians have died and almost 15,000 have been injured. But the figure could be much higher, as the government has refused to allow independent observers into the area “for their own safety.” In a rare statement, the director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross said last week that he could not recall a situation in recent years as painful and extreme.

It is very hard for the international community to effectively intervene in this calamitous situation, but that’s no reason for barely trying at all.

This link goes to more informationabout the Sri Lankan conflict and war crimes and other international humanitarian laws.