THE war in Sri Lanka, pitting the Sinhalese-dominated government against the vicious rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have been fighting for a separate homeland for the Tamil minority, is in its final phase. A spokesman for Sri Lanka's army says the Tamil Tigers are now confined to a patch of some 300 square kilometres. The last throes of a conflict that has raged for 25 years look likely to be particularly bloody; around 250,000 ethnic Tamil civilians are trapped in the pocket of territory still controlled by the Tigers.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sounded the alarm on Tuesday January 27th over what it said was a big humanitarian crisis in northern Sri Lanka. India's foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, on a visit to Sri Lanka, also stressed the need for measures to protect civilians caught up in the fighting.