WCC Head 'Deeply Distressed' Over Sri Lanka's Insistent Fighting

A stream of unwelcome news providing updates on death counts, displaced civilians and abduction cases continuously flow out of the South Asian island of Sri Lanka.

Disturbed by the worsening fighting between the government and the rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the head of the World Council of Churches has issued an "expression of concern," urging the parties involved in the violence to adhere to the Cease Fire Agreement and for Christians to be in constant prayer for the innocent people afflicted by the decades of violence.

"We are deeply distressed by the current intensification of fighting which affects the lives of thousands of innocent people in the country," wrote the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia in the statement Friday, according to the WCC. "Taking into account the protracted fighting in Sri Lanka we in the WCC are convinced that the pursuit of a final military solution is an exercise in futility; the parties to the conflict need to commit themselves to a political solution as the only viable and noble alternative."

Sri Lanka has struggled with a two-decade civil war that officially ended with the Cease Fire Agreement signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE on Feb. 2, 2002. However, both sides have failed to follow through on its promises, throwing the country back into escalated violence since the end of 2005 in spite of peace process mediation by Norway and the international community.

"We…appeal to the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to return to the obligations of the Cease Fire Agreement and to therein seek durable solutions to end the fighting that is affecting the lives of so many people," urged Kobia, who called on the two sides to settle the ethnic conflict through dialogue and negotiations.

The LTTE says it is fighting to create a separate country for the 3.1 million ethnic minority Tamils, which it says face discrimination in Sri Lanka.

"We pray for God's grace and guidance for the efforts of all those who are engaged in their efforts for peace in the country, especially the churches in Sri Lanka working towards peace, reconciliation and reconstruction," said Kobia.

According to the United Nations, some 70,000 people have been killed and 465,000 displaced by the conflict, including 205,000 uprooted since fighting intensified in April 2006.