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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sri Lankan Lawmaker Appeals for Help With Refugee Crisis

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- An ethnic Tamil lawmaker appealed for international intervention Sunday, claiming attacks by government troops in northeast Sri Lanka were driving tens of thousands of people from their homes in the area.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says more than 105,000 mainly Tamil refugees have fled their homes in Batticaloa district in search of safe shelter in areas under government control. The residents' flight began in December, when the military intensified its attacks against separatist Tamil rebels in the area.

"The artillery shells fired by the military are falling inside civilian settlements and this is forcing the people to flee," said Senadhiraja Jeyanandamoorthy, a member of the parliament for Batticaloa district representing the Tamil National Alliance, widely seen as a rebel proxy party.

Military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe denied that civilian areas were being targeted.

"The Tigers use the civilians as human shields," Samarasinghe said. "[The refugees] want to get out of there and come to safer places."

Jeyanandamoorthy also accused the government of failing to support the tens of thousands of displaced people.

"There are now over 40,000 new refugees, but they don't have enough food and proper shelter," he said. "The government is not providing them with facilities, therefore the international community should come forward to stop this."

Samarasinghe countered that the government has set up refugee camps in nonrebel areas of Batticaloa.