US and UK Issue Join Statement on Sri Lanka

Fresh from his talk at the New America Foundation, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband met with Secretary Clinton.  They issued this statement.

Secretary Clinton and Foreign Secretary Miliband call on all sides to end hostilities immediately and allow for the safe evacuation of the tens of thousands of civilians trapped within the safe zone. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam must lay down their arms and allow civilians free passage out of the conflict zone. The government of Sri Lanka must abide by its commitment of April 27 to end major combat operations and the use of heavy weapons.

Secretary Clinton and Foreign Secretary Miliband express their appreciation for the continued efforts of the United Nations and their staff on the ground in Sri Lanka. They call on the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers to allow a UN humanitarian team to visit the conflict zone to facilitate the safe evacuation of civilians. They urge both sides to allow food and medical assistance to reach those trapped by fighting, cooperate with the ICRC to facilitate the evacuation of urgent medical cases, ensure the safety of aid and medical workers, and  permit humanitarian access to all sites where displaced persons are being registered or being provided shelter. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Secretary Miliband call for a political solution that reconciles all Sri Lankans, and establishes a meaningful role for Tamil and other minorities in national political life. [emphasis mine]

In case you have not been following what’s going on, civilians that have managed to escape the conflict zone are being held at detention facilities run by the military. The conditions at the camps are appalling.   There have been reports of women being raped and murderd by their guards.  The Sri Lankan government needs to allow international humanitarian workers into these camps and stop treating IDPs as prisoners.  International humanitarian organizations like the International Committee for the Red Cross have to be allowed access to these camps.