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Humanitarian situation is dire in Sri Lanka, says US

April 21, 2009 10:52 IST

As the Sri Lankan army prepares for a final assault against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the United States on Monday expressed its deep concern over the humanitarian situation in the conflict zones there, saying 'it is in a terrible condition'.

"We are very concerned about the humanitarian situation there. It is dire," State Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood told reporters. He called on both the parties in Sri Lanka to cease their violent activity and protect the civilians in the safe zones.

Observing that the US was working with a number of interested parties to ensure the end of this conflict, he said the US would continue trying in this regard. "But it's important that both sides minimise, to the greatest possible extent, any civilian casualties, protect civilians, allow humanitarian organisations to get food to the people who need it," the Obama administration official said.

Stating the ground conditions there as 'very serious', Wood said, "the US would continue to work with others in the international community to try to see what can be done to stop it."

As of now, the immediate concern for the US and the international community is to ensure the safety of innocent civilians who are trapped in the middle of this conflict, he added. "We want to try to do everything that we can to protect them and make sure that they get the assistance that they need," Wood said.

Responding to a question, he said the US does not have a 'magic formula' in terms of how to deal with it. "But we are going to continue --- the US and others who are interested in seeing this conflict end immediately -- to work to try to convince both sides in the interest of their people to try to minimise any harm to civilians," Wood said.

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