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Unable to visit Sri Lanka to attend her last rites, Jayapalan wrote this recently. A well-known Sri Lankan Tamil poet living in exile, Jayapalan bears a poet’s sensibility on the conflict in Sri Lanka. He has been observing and writing about it for several years now. Born in Jaffna, Jayapalan lives in Norway and has been aiding a Norwegian peace mission headed by Eric Solheim for a short while. Jayapalan says he says it is time India recognised who its friends are and who its enemies are in its neighbourhood, adding that people like him who are pro-Indian are now desperate not to fail in making themselves heard.

Thousands have fled their homes in northern Sri Lanka. In this strife-torn part of the country, there are no signs of a slowdown. Nordic truce monitors and diplomats are now exasperated by the Government’s decision to continue a military campaign despite the Tigers’ offer to restore water supplies. The rebels have even pulled back to their 2002 truce positions.

“The problem is always that this fighting can go out of control and may easily escalate into something that is very difficult to control,” said Job Hanssen-Bauer, Norwegian Peace Envoy.

But even as talks continue, frightened civilians are facing a humanitarian crisis. “I am from a Tamil village in Mutur. When we came here we were stoned by some people, shells started falling in the village as we fled. We left the first refugee camp because we feared we would be attacked,” said Mani Thurajah, a labourer.

In Mutur, no one knows for sure what has happened. In France, humanitarian aid group Contre La Faim confirmed that at least seventeen aid workers were killed in the city found shot in the head in their offices.

“Our team has just recovered 17 bodies at the ACF (Action Contre la Faim) base at Mutur. We thought that there were only 15, but there are 17 dead. They’re being taken to Trincomalee where we will have an enquiry, and an autopsy, to find out how they were killed. It would seem that it was rocket explosions or bullets to the head. We don’t know. There are several versions,” said Executive Director of Action Against Hunger, Benoit Miribel.

Some analysts say President Mahinda Rajapakse wants to continue the fight, possibly as a concession to hardline Marxist and Buddhist monk political allies, or as a matter of government pride. So far, 800 people have paid with their lives and negotiators meeting with both sides could be working in vain.

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