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Statement by EAM on the situation in Sri Lanka

April 17, 2009

External Affairs Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee said,

"India is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka. The continuing conflict has taken a heavy toll on Tamil civilians and internally displaced persons caught in the cross fire. The Government of India has repeatedly expressed its concern for their security and sought to ensure safe passage to secure zones for the civilian population.

We had welcomed the announcement by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse of a cessation of hostilities for the Tamil and Sinhala New Year over the last two days. The Government of Sri Lanka must extend this pause in hostilities to prevent further casualties and enable trapped civilians to leave the area to secure locations. Continuation of precipitate military actions leading to further civilian casualties at this time would be totally unacceptable. While it is incumbent on the LTTE to release all civilians and IDPs under their control, the Government of Sri Lanka cannot be oblivious to the evolving human tragedy and the fate of the Tamil civilian population caught up in the so-called No Fire Zone. There is no reason not to continue with the pause in military actions in the NFZ.

The Government of India have extended humanitarian assistance, including medicines, food and other supplies, to the civilian population trapped in the conflict zone. A 62-member emergency medical unit from India has treated more than 1500 serious medical cases among civilians in Pulmoddai in Sri Lanka. We will soon send another consignment of 40,000 family packs to the affected civilians in Northern Sri Lanka.

The Government of India expects the Government of Sri Lanka and others concerned to respond positively to this appeal in the interest of the Tamils who are citizens of Sri Lanka.”

New Delhi
April 17,2009

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