|LTTE to blame for suffering of Tamil civilians – Presidents tells Ban Ki-moon|
|Saturday, 11 April 2009 09:41|
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has told the UN Secretary-General Ban-moon that the suffering undergone by the Tamil civilians in the No Fore Zone in the north of Sri Lanka is the sole responsibility of the LTTE that was holding them as a human shield, despite many calls for their freedom.This was said when Mr. Ban Ki-moon had a telephone conversation with President Rajapaksa at Libya yesterday (April 9) where the he is at present on a three day State Visit.
In the telephone conversation initiated by the UN Secretary-General to discuss the prevailing humanitarian situation regarding Tamil civilians in the North of Sri Lanka, Mr. Ban Ki-moon had expressed his concern about the thousands of civilian trapped in the No Fire Zone.
President Rajapaksa told Mr. Ban Ki-moon that he understood the Secretary-General’s deep preoccupation with the fate and condition of this civilian population, and informed him that all of the suffering of the civilians was due to the LTTE continuing to hold them hostage and as human shields, ignoring the many calls by the UN and humanitarian organizations to free them.
He had also informed the UNSG of the continuing numbers of civilians who were fleeing the LTTE’s hold in the rapidly diminishing land they control, where these civilians are held people forcibly, and facing great danger to come to the Safe Zone established by the Government.
President Rajapaksa had also assured the UNSG that Sri Lanka was aware of and observes all international obligations to protect civilians, and repeated his call on the UN and all interested parties to bring increased pressure on the LTTE to give the people the freedom to leave the affected area.
The UN Secretary-General and the Sri Lankan President agreed to continue working together in the coming days for the interests of the affected civilians in the North of Sri Lanka.
Earlier, Sir John Holmes UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, writing to The Guardian UK of April 08, 2009, said:
“Civilians trapped by the fighting must be allowed a free choice of whether to leave or stay, as we have made clear to the LTTE. If the LTTE truly has the best interests of the Tamil people at heart, they should contribute to ending this unnecessary civilian suffering.
“The LTTE's leadership claims the civilians in the conflict zone do not want to leave because they accompanied the LTTE voluntarily in the first place and are afraid of government reprisals. Yet there are continuing reports that the group's fighters are shooting at fleeing civilians, limiting fishing and sabotaging boats that might be used to escape, and forcing people to fight against their will.”
He adds that: “There have been many hundreds of civilian deaths caused by firing from both sides, though exact numbers and who fired at what and when is impossible to verify. It is clear that the LTTE is refusing to let people flee, though many are managing to escape somehow, and I fear the combatants may be gearing up for a final confrontation. This is a very grave situation.”
Meanwhile, there are news reports that Erik Solheim, the Norwegian International Development Minister, had told a group of Tamil demonstrators, who had recently gathered outside he Norwegian Parliament demanding that Norway intervene to stop the war in Mullaitivu, that LTTE leaders now in the No Fire Zone in Mullaitivu were maintaining close contact with the United Nations