US Call for an End to Hostilities in Sri Lanka
In a statement released by the U.S. Department of State, Spokesman Robert Wood urged the Sri Lankan Government and the Tamils Tigers to immediately stop hostilities to evacuate over 140, 000 Tamil civilians trapped in the "safety zone".
Call for an End to Hostilities in Sri Lanka Robert Wood
Acting Department Spokesman, Office of the Spokesman
Bureau of Public Affairs
April 16, 2009
The United States government is deeply concerned about the current danger to civilian lives and the dire humanitarian situation created by the fighting in the Mullaittivu area in Sri Lanka. We call upon the government and military of Sri Lanka, and the Tamil Tigers to immediately stop hostilities until the more than 140,000 civilians in the conflict area are safely out. Both sides must immediately return to a humanitarian pause and both must respect the right of free movement of those civilian men, women and children trapped by the fighting.
The United States calls upon the government of Sri Lanka to assist its Tamil citizens by halting shelling of the safe zone, permitting international monitors to ensure the safe exit of the civilians. The government of Sri Lanka should also enforce international humanitarian standards in IDP camps, grant visas to international aid groups and permit entry into Sri Lanka of international monitors and media access to those camps.
The Sri Lankan government, as the legitimate sovereign power, has before it an opportunity to put an end to this lengthy conflict. A durable and lasting peace will only be achieved through a political solution that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Sri Lankan communities. Further killing, particularly killing of civilians, will not end the conflict and will stain any eventual peace. We urge the Sri Lankan government to employ diplomacy to permit a peaceful outcome of this conflict. We call on the Sri Lankan government to put forward a proposal now to engage Tamils who do not espouse violence or terrorism, and to develop power sharing arrangements so that lasting peace and reconciliation can be achieved.
The Sri Lankan Government sources said they delivered a 48-hour ceasefire to let the Tamils civilians in the safety zone celebrate the Tamil New Year.
Mahinda Rajapakse's office said in a statement that the move would allow thousands of Tamil civilians trapped in the fighting to celebrate the New Year.
"With this objective in view, His Excellency has directed the armed forces of the state to restrict their operations during the New Year to those of a defensive nature," the statement said.
The LTTE sources said that the Sri Lankan Army continued shooting and shelling during the "ceasefire". The LTTE sources urged for the need of permanent and monitored ceasefire. The LTTE also requested the international community to evacuate the Tamils civilians from the dire situation of the "safety zone", LTTE sources said.
The Tamils civilians in the safety zones are facing shelling, and starvation. Malnutrition is taking toll on infants and many children have died due to lack of baby milk and food. Medicines are also scarce in the only makeshift hospital functioning in the safety zone, Wanni sources said. Few dithery Tamils civilians have left the safety zone to the government controlled area. It is estimated that only 50 Tamils civilians have came in to the government controlled area during the 48 hour ceasefire. Sources from Wanni said there could be couple of reason for the slow exit of Tamils civilians; first, few of these Tamils civilians were subjected to humiliations and strip-and-walk plots carried out at the checkpoint of Sri Lankan Army; secondly, shelling and shooting was reduced but still prevailed during the ceasefire period.
Closer to 200,000 Tamils civilians eagerly await an international response to remove them from the catastrophic situation.