Racial turmoil between Hindus and Buddhists leaves 100,000 people homeless.

By the time racial violence ended in the central Asian island nation of Sri Lanka recently, some 400 people had been killed and 100,000 left homeless. It was thought the centuries-old tension between the majority (70 percent) Buddhist Sinhalese and the minority (22 percent) Hindu Tamils was easing. But the outburst crashed those hopes and devastated an economy that had been slowly recovering.

The recent turmoil began with the July 23 slaughtering of 13 Sinhalese (government) soldiers by a radical group of Tamils seeking, ostensibly, the establishment of an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka.

Retaliation by the Sinhalese was swift and sure. Throughout Sri Lanka, but especially in its capital city, Colombo, Tamil homes and businesses were looted and burned. Some Tamils were reportedly doused with gasoline and burned alive, to the cheers of onlooking Sinhalese.

The bulk of the relief and rehabilitation effort is being carried on by Christian organizations, although Christians make up less than seven percent of Sri Lanka’s 15 million people.

Some of the wealthier Tamils have fled to India; others have begun to rebuild their businesses. But tens of thousands have nothing and nowhere to go.

Evangelical Christians and organizations are seeking to provide both short-term care and a long-term plan to channel the displaced Tamils back into Sri Lankan society, MAP (Medical Assistance Programs) International sent emergency medical supplies valued at $250,000. Southern Baptists donated materials for a portable field hospital.

Other organizations involved include World Relief, Campus Crusade, and the Salvation Army. Anglicans, Missouri Synod Lutherans, Presbyterians, ...

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