Background of Sri Lanka conflict

Thousands of civilians, troops and Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed since a 2002 truce gave way to renewed civil war.

Hundreds of thousands uprooted

Thousands of child soldiers

At least 1 million mines laid

Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans have been displaced across the island due to war past and present and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Violence first erupted in 1983. Since then, some 70,000 people have been killed in fighting between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels who want an independent state in the north and east of the island.

Landmines and explosive debris have left large areas uninhabitable. The fighting has also laid waste to agricultural land, contributing to child malnutrition. The use of child soldiers, some as young as nine, by both sides in the conflict has added to the tragedy.

The conflict has its roots in ethnic tension between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and the mainly Hindu Tamil minority who accuse the government of discrimination.

A ceasefire was agreed in 2002 and the rebels dropped their demand for an independent state, settling for regional autonomy.

But violence has surged since the end of 2005 and the Tigers have reverted to their original demand for all-out independence.

The government seized rebel territory in the east of the island in 2007 and large swathes of the north in 2008.

Source: Reuters AlertNet

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