Women and the Conflict in Sri Lanka
Background – the conflict
The Sri Lankan Civil War was a conflict fought on the island of Sri Lanka. Beginning on July 23, 1983, there was an on-and-off insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers), a separatist militant organization which fought to create an independent Tamil state named Tamil Eelam in the north and the east of the island.Since independence in 1948, successive governments dominated by the island’s Sinhalese majority took steps to redress a perceived imbalance in favor of the Tamil minority, who became increasingly marginalized. Low-level insurgency escalated in 1983 into full-scale civil war. After fighting among Tamil militant groups, the LTTE emerged as the dominant separatist group. Decades of fighting produced no conclusive result, with neither side being strong enough to defeat the other and with attempts at peace talks repeatedly failing. The government declared victory on May 18 2009 after the death of the leader of the Tamil Tigers.
According to Amnesty International, the conflict has left over 80,000 dead and displaced possibly a million civilians.Sri Lankans living in areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) suffered from years of abuse, including harassment, threats, enforced disappearances and the recruitment of child soldiers.http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/sri-lanka/background-on-the-sri-lanka-conflict/page.do?id=1011676
Women and the conflict
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on the prevention of genocide, Mr. Deng, argued in April 2009 for special attention to be paid to the plight of women and girls trapped in the conflict. He argued that “women and girls are particularly vulnerable to “excesses of conflict,” stressing that the Government is legally obligated to give them special protection.”http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30810&Cr=Sri+lanka&Cr1=
Many of the camps are severely over-crowded and the main district hospital in Vavuniya is overstretched. There needs to be unimpeded humanitarian access to the camps so that domestic and international agencies can provide vital life saving medical aid, shelter, water and food.