3 April 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12166

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY DISTRESSED AT ONGOING CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, CONFINEMENT


IN VANNI REGION OF SRI LANKA, REMINDS GOVERNMENT OF RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT


The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:


The Secretary-General is deeply distressed by continuing reports from the Vanni region of Sri Lanka that civilians are at extreme risk, with heavy casualties, and that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are keeping civilians in a very small area of active conflict against their will.  While some have been able to leave or escape, reliable reports indicate that the LTTE have prevented others from leaving, including by firing at them.


The Secretary-General calls upon the LTTE leadership to allow civilians to leave the conflict area of their own free will.  The severe restrictions of the LTTE on their freedom of movement violate international law.  The Secretary-General also deplores the forced recruitment of civilians, particularly children.


At the same time, the Secretary-General again reminds the Government of Sri Lanka of its responsibility to protect civilians, and to avoid the use of heavy weapons in areas where there are civilians, as promised.  The Government should receive and treat displaced persons in accordance with international law, and work closely with the United Nations in meeting the protection and physical needs of displaced persons.


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For information media • not an official record