Pope Francis to meet civil war victims in Sri Lanka

Pope Francis will visit Sri Lanka’s war torn north next January, amid accusations of ill treatment of people there by the nation’s Sinhalese majority.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, said Pope Francis will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, 260 kms north of the capital.

This is in the heart of the former conflict zone.

The Pope will meet victims of Sri Lanka’s civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2009.

Francis’s pilgrimage to the 400-year old shrine is expected to highlight ongoing human rights abuses and the deteriorating circumstances of Tamils, following the crushing of the Tamil Tiger insurgency.

Since then the north of the country has been under military occupation.

Reconciliation has stalled as the Sri Lankan government has refused to acknowledge war crimes.

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