British parliamentarians visit Sri Lanka to review crisis

May 4th, 2009 - 10:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, May 4 (Xinhua) A group of British parliamentarians Monday arrived in Sri Lanka to take stock of the humanitarian situation as a result of the military operation against Tamil Tiger rebels in the country’s north, officials said.
The group includes parliamentarian Des Browne who was recently rejected by the Sri Lankan government to be Britain’s special envoy on the Sri Lankan conflict.

The parliamentarians are visiting the country at the invitation of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the foreign ministry said.

The group is scheduled to visit the northern town of Vavuniya where the government has set up relief centres for nearly 200,000 displaced civilians.

Besides Rajapaksa, the group will also meet opposition leaders during their three-day stay in the south Asian country.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner on a joint visit to the island country last week had called for a truce between the military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The remarks annoyed the Sri Lankan government who believes that there is no need for a truce as the LTTE was on the verge of defeat.

The government wants to continue its military campaign until the rebel leaders who are believed to be hiding in a narrow coastal strip in northeastern Mullaithivu district are killed or captured.

The international community says a truce is needed to ensure the safety of the civilians who are still trapped in the fighting zone.

Over 50,000 civilians are believed to be still trapped in the conflict zone in the north.

According to an estimate, some 120,000 civilians have fled the area since April 20.

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