UN asks Sri Lanka govt., LTTE to observe intnl humanitarian law
New York (PTI): The UN and international aid agencies, that are rushing assistance to over 250,000 civilians trapped in war-ridden northern Sri Lanka, have asked all sides in the conflict to ensure that people are treated according to international humanitarian law.
The recent surge in fighting between the government forces and the LTTE has prompted warnings from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other UN officials about the humanitarian impact of the conflict on the people of Sri Lanka.
They have asked all sides to ensure that all people, including the displaced, are treated according to international humanitarian law.
Ban called on the LTTE and the Government to accord "immediate and absolute priority" to ensuring the protection and well-being of civilians, including humanitarian aid workers.
The Secretary-General also called on both parties to respect "no fire zones," "safe areas," and civilian infrastructure including schools, medical facilities and humanitarian facilities and assets.
In addition, he called for all parties to allow and facilitate the movement of the 250,000 civilians currently caught up in fighting to safe areas.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) nearly 5,000 people have managed to cross the zones held by the LTTE to Government-controlled areas since late November.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has taken the lead in formulating guidance for assistance to accommodate internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing from the Wanni region.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka has urged the Government to ensure timely and transparent registration of new arrivals, following which the IDPs should be allowed to stay with host families or move to existing Welfare Centres, where their freedom of movement would be guaranteed.
Since early October, some 519 trucks have transported over 8,000 tons of food from the UN World Food Programme (WFP), as well as water and sanitation materials, school supplies, clothing and household goods supplied by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UNHCR.