News

UN Security Council 'Deeply Concerned' For Sri Lankans Caught in Fighting

The U.N. Security Council has expressed its deep concern about the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka's conflict zone and the plight of thousands of civilians still trapped there. Council members urged the government to protect the civilians and called on Tamil Tiger rebels not to use them as human shields.

In an informal closed-door meeting the Security Council received a briefing from U.N. special envoy Vijay Nambiar on his mission last week to Sri Lanka.

Deep concern for civilians

Following the two-hour long session, Security Council president for the month of April, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller told reporters that the council was in agreement on its deep concern for civilians in the Vanni region of northeastern Sri Lanka, where government forces are trying to oust Tamil Tiger rebels of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) from their last stronghold along the coast.

Ambassador Heller said the council strongly condemns the LTTE as a terrorist organization and for using civilians as human shields and not allowing them to leave the conflict area.

"We demand they, the LTTE, immediately lay down arms, renounce terrorism, allow a U.N.-assisted evacuation of the remaining civilians in the conflict area, and join the political process through dialogue in order to put an end to the conflict. The Security Council members, we urge all parties, including the government of Sri Lanka, to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and to allow international humanitarian agencies access to those affected by the fighting," he said.

US Ambassador says situation is 'dire'

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice called the situation "grave" and "dire" and said Washington is deeply concerned. "We think it is absolutely imperative that both sides cease the fighting and the heavy shelling that is putting many thousands of civilians in immediate danger," he said.

U.N. Assistant Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg, said the humanitarian situation in the Vanni region is "absolutely critical" and that the United Nations, which has been shut out of the conflict zone, must be given immediate access.

She said the Sri Lankan government says 90,000 civilians have gotten out of the conflict zone in recent days, but she cautioned that that figure has not been independently verified. Meanwhile, tens of thousands still remain trapped inside.

Sri Lankan envoy rejects international criticism

Sri Lanka's U.N. envoy, Hewa Palihakkara, said U.N. agencies are allowed access to areas outside the zone and that the International Committee of the Red Cross and Caritas both have staff inside the zone.

He also rejected international criticism that journalists have not been allowed near the fighting and some have even been refused entry to Sri Lanka entirely.

Earlier Wednesday, international aid groups expressed their disappointment with the international community's response to the situation. In a letter to the secretary-general and the Security Council they urged them to take immediate action to protect civilians caught in the conflict zone.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs