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G-8 to Sri Lanka factions: no more civilian losses

[AP, Saturday, 25 April 2009 09:49 No Comment]

The Group of Eight industrialized nations demanded Saturday that the warring factions in Sri Lanka take all necessary action to prevent further civilian casualties.
The G-8 foreign ministers said they were deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country and the «mass civilian casualties that have resulted. They condemned the rebels for using civilians as human shields.

It is time for the conflict to end now,» said a statement released by current G-8 president Italy.

The United Nations estimates that some 50,000 civilians are caught in Sri Lanka’s northern war zone, where the military has pushed forward with its offensive to destroy the Tamil Tiger rebels. The rebels have warned they face starvation.
More than 100,000 civilians have fled the tiny coastal strip still under rebel control since Monday, flooding hospitals in the north and overwhelming government-run displacement camps, according to aid workers.

The government has barred aid groups and journalists from the war zone since last year, arguing that it was too dangerous for them to work.

International pressure on Sri Lanka has grown in recent days, with the United Nations sending its top humanitarian official to assess the situation and neighboring India sending two top officials to demand a pause in the fighting to allow civilians to escape.

The U.N. Security Council also demanded Sri Lanka’s cooperation with efforts to visit the war zone and called for access for the International Committee of the Red Cross as well.

On Saturday, the G-8 foreign ministers added their voice, saying they were most concerned about reports that the injured haven’t been able to move to safety.

Strongly condemning the use of civilians as human shields by the (rebels), the killing of civilians and terrorism in all its manifestations, we call all parties to take all necessary action to avoid further civilian casualties,» the statement said.

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