No justification for Sri Lankan Tamils’ plight: Kamalesh SharmaMay 15th, 2009 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS
London, May 15 (IANS) Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma Friday reiterated his deep concern at the escalating humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, saying there can be no justification for the continued plight of Tamil civilians.
Tens of thousands of civilians are reported to be trapped on a six-km stretch of land between a lagoon and forests in northern Sri Lanka - with the army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) accusing each other of shelling them.
In a statement, Sharma urged both warring sides to abide by the principles of international humanitarian law and ensure the safety of civilians “as the highest priority”.
“The extreme civilian suffering cannot be justified in any context,” he said.
The secretary-general said he was “deeply distressed” by the worsening situation in Sri Lanka, including the recent reports of shelling of hospitals.
“I call on all concerned to respect the rights of civilians and allow the tens of thousands of trapped civilians to evacuate to safety. The LTTE must immediately stop the deplorable use of civilians as human shields, allow them to move to safety and lay down their arms,” Sharma said.
“The Sri Lankan government should maintain its stated commitment not to engage in combat operations involving heavy weaponry in the conflict zone,” he added.
Sharma called upon the Sri Lankan government to allow international humanitarian agencies to provide relief to civilians, not only in the conflict zone but also in refugee camps.
Tags: combat operations, commonwealth secretary, conflict zone, forests, human shields, humanitarian agencies, humanitarian crisis, international humanitarian law, justification, lagoon, liberation tigers of tamil eelam, liberation tigers of tamil eelam ltte, northern sri lanka, plight, refugee camps, secretary general, sri lankan government, sri lankan tamils, tamil civilians, weaponry