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UNSC urges LTTE to surrender

April 23, 2009 11:00 IST

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday asked the Tamil Tigers to immediately surrender, renounce terrorism and join the political process through dialogue to put an end to the decades old ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

"We demand that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam immediately lay down arms, renounce terrorism, allow a UN assisted evacuation of the remaining civilians in the conflict area, and join the political process through dialogue," UNSC president Claude Heller told reporters today after a meeting convened at the request of France.

The meeting of the 15-member UNSC discussed the current crisis in Sri Lanka in the wake of the human rights groups raising concerns over the deteriorating humanitarian condition in the conflict zone in the island nation.

Heller's remarks expresses the sentiments of the Security Council members and does not hold any official clout unlike in the case of a Presidential Statement; on which there was an apparent differences among the five veto-wielding members of the council -- the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia.

Expressing concern over the humanitarian situation in the Wanni region and the plight of the civilians trapped within the conflict zone, Heller said the Security Council calls on all member states to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the trapped civilians.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's envoy Vijay Nambiar, who recently visited Sri Lanka and held talks with the President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led government, briefed the council on the situation there. Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UN H M G S Palihakkara also briefed the council.

The council members, Heller said, strongly condemn the LTTE terrorist organisation for the use of civilians as human shields and for not allowing them to leave the conflict zone. The council also urged all parties including the Sri Lankan government to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and to allow aid agencies access to those affected by the fighting.

Welcoming the news that the tens of thousands of civilians have escaped from the conflict area in the past few days, the Council members urged that further steps be taken to allow the safe evacuation of the remaining civilians to provide them the necessary protection and assistance.

"We express also the importance of the UN role in assisting the Sri Lankan government in attending the present humanitarian crisis under the present dramatic circumstances," he said, adding, "We expect that the Sri Lanka government will support the UN team that is in the field".

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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