Joint declaration by Bernard Kouchner and David Miliband on Sri Lanka

15/04/09

"We welcomed President Rajapakse’s announcement on 12 April of a pause in the Sri Lankan government’s military offensive as a first step towards the protection of civilian life. But we are deeply concerned that there was no large scale movement of civilians away from the conflict area to safety as we had hoped to see, in the short period allowed for the pause. It is clear that the LTTE have been forcefully preventing civilians from leaving the conflict area and we deplore their determination to use civilians as a human shield. We do of course continue to call on the LTTE to renounce terrorism and violence and lay down the arms as necessary elements of any long-term solution.

We urge President Rajapakse to announce a new pause . Democratic governments are rightly held to higher standards for civilian protection than terrorist organisations. We also urge the LTTE to allow civilians to move to safety. It is vital that a pause in the fighting should be long enough to give civilians the opportunity to leave the conflict area, and for the UN to build confidence amongst the population that they will be safe if they leave. Both sides must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and do all they can to protect civilians. This includes giving international humanitarian agencies unimpeded access to those affected by the fighting so that they can deliver adequate supplies of assistance. France and Britain, as members of the Security Council, continue to support the active engagement by the UN and by other members of the international community on this urgent issue.”

Online 30/09/2009

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