Co-chairs emphasise on immediate humanitarian concerns

[TamilNet, Thursday, 25 September 2008, 08:58 GMT]
"We're placing a lot of emphasis right now on the protection of human rights for civilians who are caught in the fighting, and the democratic government's responsibility for extending - for respecting and extending human rights protection to the people in the areas that they take over," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Affairs, Richard Boucher, in a statement on Wednesday, after a meeting of the 'Sri Lanka Co-Chairs' in New York.

"We wanted to get out on the record from the Co-Chairs that we did have a meeting, but also to emphasize the humanitarian concerns at this particular moment," read Mr. Boucher's statement, issued to media by the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.

Full text of the statement issued by the U.S. Assistant Secretary follows:

Assistant Secretary of State for
South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher
On Sri Lanka


September 24, 2008
Waldorf=Astoria
New York, New York

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: We had a meeting of the Sri Lanka Co-Chairs today. That's the United States, Norway, the European Union, and Japan. We meet regularly on the subject of Sri Lanka, and we had a meeting today in New York because, for many of us, it was convenient to be here and others, like our Japanese colleagues, were willing to fly in.

We had a very thorough discussion for about two hours of the whole situation and outlook in Sri Lanka. I think it's characterized, first and foremost, by a notable convergence of views, both on the short-term needs and the long-term. But we wanted to say that one of the areas that all of us emphasized were the immediate humanitarian concerns, and that involves several issues. The fighting has been expanding, heading towards the north. We're placing a lot of emphasis right now on the protection of human rights for civilians who are caught in the fighting, and the democratic government's responsibility for extending - for respecting and extending human rights protection to the people in the areas that they take over.

The second is humanitarian access for - to care for the needs of those who are displaced and affected by the fighting, where both sides need to make sure that they're not catching civilians in the crossfire, that they're letting people go to places where they can be safe, and that humanitarian deliveries can take place for these populations that are affected by the fighting.

And the third is sort of a corollary to that, and that's our very strong support for United Nations organizations and humanitarian actors who are trying to take care of the displaced people and people affected by the fighting, working in government areas, working with the government. But we think they themselves play a very important role.

We're all having meetings in New York with representatives of the Sri Lankan Government. Some of the parties are in touch with the Tamil Tigers during the course of their activities, and we are making these points - each of us, I think - to the parties that we speak to, and particularly this week in New York, to the representatives of the Sri Lankan Government who are here. And our ambassadors, envoys in Colombo, are making them as well.

So we wanted to get out on the record from the Co-Chairs that we did have a meeting, but also to emphasize the humanitarian concerns at this particular moment.

 

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