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Posts Tagged ‘human shields’

By James Traub, The Washington Post

At this moment, at least 60,000 civilians trapped in a tiny strip of land along the northern coast of Sri Lanka are being deployed as human shields by the insurgent force known as the Tamil Tigers — while artillery shells fired by the Sri Lankan army land indiscriminately among rebels and noncombatants alike. The United Nations asserts that at least 4,500 civilians have been killed since January as the government has sought to decisively end a bloody rebellion that has lasted for a quarter-century. The army is said to be preparing a final assault that, according to U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, could produce a “bloodbath.” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has spoken of “tens of thousands” of lives at risk. Yet the conflict has barely been reported, and the international community has barely stirred.
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By The United Nations Department of Public Information

Representatives of four non-governmental organizations today called on the United Nations to speak out on the situation in northern Sri Lanka and urged the Security Council to take up the matter under the concept of “responsibility to protect”.

Speaking at a Headquarters press conference where they discussed the situation in and around the “no-fire zone” in northern Sri Lanka -– where Government forces are poised to overrun positions held by rebel fighters of the Liberation of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) -– were Joseph Cornelius Donnelly of Caritas Internationalis; Anna Neistat of Human Rights Watch; Robert Templer of the International Crisis Group; and Nimmi Gowrinathan of Operation USA. James Traub of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect was available to answer questions. The press conference was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations.

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By The Washington Times

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it is preparing a major relief effort for Sri Lanka amid expections that the nation’s 26-year civil war will end within days – at a cost of tens of thousands of civilian lives.

The administration also called on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), whose forces are surrounded in eight square miles of swamp, to surrender peacefully and avoid further bloodshed.

“The conflict is at a decisive point, and we see the potential of major developments in the next 48 hours,” Michael S. Owen, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, told reporters at the State Department.

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By Mark McDonald, The New York Times

HONG KONG — Tamil separatist fighters on Tuesday ignored a surrender ultimatum by the Sri Lankan government, heightening concerns for tens of thousands of civilians unable to flee a crumbling safe haven that has been the scene of fierce fighting in recent days.

The government said some 9,000 civilians fled the so-called no-fire zone on Tuesday, joining about 30,000 who escaped Monday when soldiers broke through earthen defenses built by the Tamil Tiger fighters.

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By Robert Templer, International Crisis Group

A mass slaughter of civilians will take place Tuesday at noon. And everyone knows it.

The Sri Lankan government has issued a deadline of noon tomorrow for the Tamil Tigers to surrender. With the embattled rebels unlikely to put down their guns before then, only forceful and immediate international action to halt the fighting can prevent the possible deaths of tens of thousands of civilians trapped between the warring parties.

More than 100,000 men, women and children are trapped in a space roughly the size of Central Park, caught up in a war between the Sri Lankan government and the remaining forces of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers. Cornered in a shrinking patch of coast in the Northeast of Sri Lanka, with little access to food, water or medicine the past three months, the civilians have remained out of the sight of most of the world. U.N. and humanitarian workers were forced by the government to leave LTTE areas last September; journalists have also been banned from witnessing the unfolding horror.

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By Ravi Nessman, Associated Press

Sri Lankan troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked Tamil Tiger defenses in the northeast Thursday, a rebel-allied Web site reported, as international pressure grew for a new cease-fire to allow civilians to escape the fighting.

The government, which has surrounded the rebels along with tens of thousands of civilians in a sliver of land along the northeast coast, has vowed to crush the Tamil Tigers and end this Indian Ocean island nation’s quarter century civil war.

The military initially denied launching new attacks on the rebels after its two-day unilateral cease-fire expired Wednesday, but the Ministry of Defense later posted a statement on its Web site announcing it had resumed the offensive and killed at least 19 rebels. There was no explanation for the government’s conflicting reports.

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By The Guardian

Sri Lanka today rejected a call by the UN for a ceasefire in its military campaign against the Tamil Tigers, insisting it would not be trapped into letting the group’s leaders escape.

Rebels belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have taken refuge in a tiny enclave measuring less than eight square miles, alongside tens of thousands of civilians who are unable to leave.

Sri Lanka has accused the Tigers of using the civilians as human shields and claims they are being prevented from leaving. Aid agency officials say many civilians, including children, have been killed by the LTTE while trying to escape.

Yesterday a senior UN human rights official warned of a bloodbath unless tens of thousands of civilians are allowed to leave the war zone. Walter Kaelin, the representative of the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, on the human rights of internally displaced persons, said: “If the Sri Lankan army would try to go into there, if the LTTE would not be ready to let these civilians go, then we’ll end up with a bloodbath, and this must by all means be avoided.”

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