7:45 AM

Government assist civilians fleeing fighting in the Wanni

The Government is committed to assisting civilians who may be displaced by the ongoing counter LTTE military operations in the North and reiterates its firm commitment to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the people in the Wanni.

Urgent measures have been taken to provide adequate food and shelter to the displaced people and additional facilities are being constructed in Government controlled areas. Sri Lanka is a unique case of a government maintaining its offices and funding the administration in territories unlawfully occupied by a terrorist group.

The Government Agents of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu have confirmed that internally displaced persons (IDPs) are being temporarily accommodated in schools, which are now closed due to holidays. Plans are underway to settle them in shelters located in safe areas prior to the commencement of the new school term. There is absolutely no truth in the reports of IDPs living under trees.

While the Government has strongly encouraged civilians to move from the conflict zone to safe areas under its control, it is reported that the LTTE has hindered thousands of families from moving to safer places by imposing a strict pass system and in some instances, forcing some family members to stay behind to ensure the return of the rest of the family. These measures seem designed to use civilians as a buffer against the government forces which is a serious violation of international humanitarian norms.

In these circumstances, it is incumbent on the international community to exert pressure on the LTTE to allow civilians to leave areas controlled by them. The safety and well-being of civilians can be effectively ensured in Government controlled facilities.