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Friday, May 15, 2009

Obama warns of catastrophe in Sri Lanka

Washington: United States President Barack Obama on Thursday warned that the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka could turn into a “catastrophe” and asked Colombo to put an end to “indiscriminate” shelling in the northern war zone and the LTTE to lay down arms and stop using civilians as “human shields.”

At a hurriedly convened media availability on the White House lawns, Mr. Obama voiced serious concern over the developments in the island nation and pointed out that the issue had not received the attention it deserved.

Mr. Obama said:

“We have a humanitarian crisis that’s taking place in Sri Lanka. And I’ve been increasingly saddened by the desperate news in recent days.

“Sri Lanka must seek a peace that is secure and lasting, and grounded in respect for all of its citizens. More civilian casualties and inadequate care for those caught in resettlement camps will only make it more difficult to achieve the peace that the people of Sri Lanka deserve.

“The government should live up to its commitment to not use heavy weapons in the conflict zone.”

The government should give the United Nations’ humanitarian teams access to the civilians trapped between the warring parties so that they could receive the assistance necessary to save lives. Colombo should also allow the U.N. and the ICRC access to nearly 190,000 displaced people.

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