|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IMMEDIATE, ABSOLUTE PRIORITY MUST BE GIVEN TO PROTECTION
OF CIVILIANS CAUGHT IN INTENSIFIED FIGHTING IN VANNI REGION OF SRI LANKA
The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of civilians caught in intensified fighting in the Vanni region of Sri Lanka between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka. He calls on the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka to accord immediate and absolute priority to ensuring the protection and well-being of civilians, including humanitarian aid workers.
The Government and the LTTE must ensure that all people, including the displaced, are treated in accordance with international humanitarian law.
The Secretary-General calls on both parties to respect “no-fire zones”, “safe areas” and civilian infrastructure, including schools, medical facilities and humanitarian facilities and assets.
He is deeply concerned that the civilian population in the area is in increasingly dire need of humanitarian aid, including food, water, sanitation and shelter. The Secretary-General also calls for all parties to allow and facilitate the movement of 250,000 civilians currently in the area of fighting to safe areas.
The Secretary-General appreciates the cooperation of the Government of Sri Lanka in facilitating the relocation of UN staff and their dependents, and trusts that all parties will further cooperate with their relocation to Vavuniya as soon as possible.
The Secretary-General is also very concerned about attacks on members of the media and urges all parties to demonstrate respect for the freedom of the press.
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