UK: Sri Lanka belongs on UN Security Council agenda

[TamilNet, Monday, 11 May 2009, 19:19 GMT]
Britain’s Foreign Minister David Miliband said Monday he is “appalled” by reports of mass civilian casualties in Sri Lanka. Saying that he believed “very very strongly” that the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka merits the attention of the United Nations Security Council, he noted: “the civilian catastrophe in the North East of Sri Lanka speaks for itself and the international humanitarian law to which we all sign up needs to be followed in spirit and in letter.” Speaking at the UN in New York, Miliband also suggested Sri Lanka should not qualify for the $1.9m IMF loan Colombo is seeking.

Miliband’s comments, made to press in New York, were released by the UK Foreign Office Monday.

“I am appalled by the reports that have come out of Sri Lanka over the weekend of mass civilian casualties. The UN Spokesman said that there had been a "blood bath" in the North East of Sri Lanka on Saturday and Sunday,” he said.

“I have spoken to [Sri Lankan] Foreign Minister Bogollagama today and said that I need to speak to him later about these reports because no-one can be in any doubt that this is an issue that deserves the international community's attention.”

“I will be meeting NGOs and UN Representatives today with Foreign Minister Kouchner to follow-up the visit that we did [in Sri Lanka two weeks ago].

“Our message is a simple one which is that the killing must stop.”

“The civilians are trapped in the zone - up to 50,000 - an area of just three square kilometres - are the victims of what at the moment is a war without witness.” he said.

According to Sri Lanka’s regional civil servants, the number of people trapped in the area is actually over 160,000.

Miliband also said Sri Lanka’s crisis needs to be taken up at the UN Security Council.

“As you know, the issue [Sri Lanka] has not yet been allowed onto the formal UN Security Council agenda. That's why we will be having a range of meetings either side of today's formal meeting on the Middle East.”

“I believe very very strongly that the civilian situation in the North East of Sri Lanka merits the attention of the United Nations at all levels.”

“I think that the civilian catastrophe in the North East of Sri Lanka speaks for itself and the international humanitarian law to which we all sign up needs to be followed in spirit and in letter.”

Asked about Sri Lanka’s application for a loan from the IMF, whose board is to meet Monday, Mr. Miliband said: “In respect of the IMF, I think you'll find that the issue is not coming up at the IMF today.”

“It's essential that any Government is able to show that it will use any IMF money in a responsible and appropriate way and, as I explained in the House of Commons last week, I don't think that is yet the case.”

Meanwhile, four international organisations released a joint letter to the Japanese Prime Minister today, calling on Japan “to support efforts for the Security Council to keep the situation in Sri Lanka under close and regular review and to consider the situation in Sri Lanka formally at the Security Council.”

The statement was signed by Human Rights Watch, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, International Crisis Group and Amnesty International.

“Security Council resolutions have repeatedly emphasized the importance of the protection of civilians. Resolution 1674 reaffirms the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, which heads of state adopted at the 2005 World Summit.”


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