Aid slow in coming to Sri Lanka’s war survivors

By June 1, 2009

Sri Lanka (MNN) — Two weeks
after the Sri Lankan government declared victory over Tamil rebels, George Verwer with Operation
answered the question, "Is the war really over this

"I think it is. In the past, I was always hesitant to say that
in the past when there was peace. There were some periods of peace, but the
government has won this war." 

The war ended with the
government's announcement that it had killed Tamil leader Velupillai
Prabhakaran and his son. A short time later, the handful of remaining Tamil
fighters surrendered. It was a high
price to pay for peace.  There are
estimates that 70,000 civilians were killed in the fighting during the last 30
years, as well as concerns that the number will increase.

The United Nations estimates that
at least 7,000 civilians were killed in the bloody final push of the battle to
defeat the rebels, the Tamil Tigers militant Hindus waging guerrilla
warfare against a Buddhist government.
They had been fighting for a separate homeland in the northern part of the

Hundreds of thousands of
civilians were displaced by the battle that ended the war. Conditions in the camps clumped around the
northern town of Vavuniya remain overcrowded and without adequate sanitation.
Humanitarian aid agency Christian Aid
worries of an imminent outbreak of disease outbreak in Tamil refugee camps in northern Sri Lanka.

Cooking pots, clean water, food,
medicine and blankets are in short supply. Although OM does not have a lot of work in Sri Lanka, they do have
history and they have relationships with those who are on the frontlines. 

The work for
rebuilding is just beginning. Verwer says, "We are
overwhelmed by the challenge of all the refugees, and all the suffering and
resettling people, so we have worked very closely with the churches. There are
good churches in Sri Lanka."

Gospel For Asia notes that as the
people return home, these pastors and other workers will continue helping them
rebuild their lives in whatever ways are necessary. For some, that could mean
ministering to families burying their dead. For others it could be providing
food and other household necessities. Others may need new homes if theirs were
destroyed in the conflict.

With the end of the war,
GFA-supported missionaries will also be praying for their country's leaders as
they plot a course for the future.

Is there finally relief for the persecuted
church? Verwer says probably not. Sri
Lanka is still a divided nation. "There's
an element of Sri Lanka that is very fanatic Buddhist. They are persecuting
Christians; they're burning churches down. So the Christians are not
necessarily dancing in the street right now, and it looks like the persecution
of Christians is going to continue and increase. A lot of misinformation has
been spread about Christians."

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