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Norway requests more active UN engagement in Sri Lanka – The Norway Post

[MISC, Thursday, 14 May 2009 07:19 No Comment]

Norway condemns the hostilities in Sri Lanka and believes the UN should be more actively engaged, and that the situation in the war torn state should be discussed in the UN Security Council. (Photo: Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere)

 

Erik Solheim, Norwegian Minister of the Environment and International Development, commented, “A humanitarian ceasefire in Sri Lanka must be put in place as soon as possible in order to stop the bloodbath.”

 

- If the hostilities continue, there is a serious risk of a further dramatic loss of life within the government-designated safe zone. According to the UN, at least 50 000 people are trapped in this area. So far, attempts to persuade the parties to the conflict to end the fighting have not been successful.

 

Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere commented, “We take a very critical view of the fact that the parties are continuing to fight and are resisting the strong international effort to find a solution. The situation in Sri Lanka should be discussed in the UN Security Council.”

 

The US, the EU, Japan and Norway discussed the situation in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, and are requesting a more active UN engagement. They are unanimous in insisting that the authorities in Sri Lanka meet their obligations and do not fire into the area where civilians are trapped. The Tamil Tigers must allow civilians to leave the war zone, they say.

 

Mr Solheim also pointed out, “It is important that the UN is engaged at all levels. It is encouraging that Secretary-General  Ban Ki-moon intends to visit Sri Lanka as soon as possible.”

 

“We urge the authorities to let the UN into the war zone to help to bring the fighting to an end and assess the humanitarian situation. The UN and the Red Cross must be given free access to civilians wherever they are,” Mr Stoere underlined.

 

- The parties to the conflict are responsible for upholding international humanitarian law. They have an obligation to protect civilians affected by the conflict.

 

“It is important that the events that have led to such huge civilian losses are properly examined,” Mr Solheim added.

 

(NRK/Press release)

Rolleiv Solholm

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