Raw video,APC Captured in 2006,Muhamalai fight : The U.N. Children's Fund appealed Friday to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers to let civilians leave the battle zone as government forces continue to close in on the rebels.
''At the moment, we have a very large number of people, including tens of thousands of children, trapped in a fast-shrinking area,'' UNICEF representative Philippe Duamelle told reporters in Colombo.
''The best thing for these people is that the LTTE allows them to move freely and enter a safe area where they can receive appropriate support,'' he said.
Rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been fighting for a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils on the island dominated by Sinhalese for more than three decades.
But a government offensive that began in March 2007 has drastically reduced territory under control of the rebels, who are now confined to a mostly jungle area in the northeast.
Duamelle said people trapped there ''have poor access to shelter, healthcare, and water and sanitation, and as the conflict lines get closer to them they are more and more exposed to the fighting.''
''I call upon the LTTE to meet its responsibilities and guarantee freedom of movement to the civilian population,'' he said.
The LTTE has long used a civilian human shield strategy of not permitting civilians to cross into government-held areas or designated safety zones.