Norway requests more active UN engagement in Sri Lanka
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 Støre commented, “We take a very critical view of the fact that the parties are continuing to fight and 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 yesterday, 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. 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 Støre 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.