UN calls for protection of civilians, says Vaharai demands urgent response

[TamilNet, Monday, 08 January 2007, 10:08 GMT]
The United Nations office in Colombo has condemned the deliberate targeting of civilians and called for the protection of all civilians throughout the island. A statement by the UN office that deplored the latest incidents involving two buses which resulted in the deaths of 20 innocent civilians, quoted Amin Awad, the acting resident and humanitarian coordinator, as stating that the civilians in Vaharai are the "most vulnerable of the vulnerable." The UN agencies stood ready to assist the civilians, but said there has been no access to Vaharai for humanitarian agencies. The last convoy, after repeated protests, was allowed on 29 November with humanitarian supplies for two weeks.

Following the Sri Lanka Air Force bombardment on Iluppaikkadavai, last Tuesday, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Margareta Wahlström, had said the aerial bombardment by the Sri Lanka Air Force in Iluppaikadavai was a "source of deepest concern."

Full text of the UN Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Colombo, Sri Lanka, issued Monday follows:

Colombo, 8 January: The United Nations condemns the deliberate targeting of civilians and deplores the latest incidents involving two civilian buses which resulted in the deaths of over 20 innocent civilians with dozens maimed and injured.

The United Nations calls for the protection of all civilians throughout the island.

The situation in Vaharai in the east is grave and demands an urgent response. According to Government estimates, 15,000 people are isolated without access to food or basic supplies as stocks are decimated. Since the 29 November when the last convoy of humanitarian supplies were allowed in, there has been no access to Vaharai for humanitarian agencies.

“We stand ready to assist those still trapped in Vaharai. These persons are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. We must always recall that it is the most weak who remain behind – the elderly, the sick and the disabled. They are still without access to food, emergency medical services, and shelter, and continue to be caught in the middle of relentless fighting,” says Amin Awad, Acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

The United Nations has already mounted an extensive operation supporting the government through local authorities and partner agencies to protect and assist with the basic humanitarian needs of over 70,000 individuals across the district of Batticaloa.

The United Nations further reminds both parties of their obligations under International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, as expressed in the Security Council Resolutions on the Protection of Civilians and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

 

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