March 28th, 2007 05:55 EST
Sri Lanka: Ban Ki-moon says parties must end escalating cycle of violence
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today spoke out against escalating violations of the 2002 ceasefire between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and called for them to return to the negotiating table.
A spokesperson for Mr. Ban said he is “disturbed” by the intensifying violence, which include an air attack by the LTTE.
“He deeply regrets that air raids, military confrontations on the ground, and suicide bombings have become a daily occurrence, prompting massive displacement and suffering for civilians,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Mr. Ban “appeals to the parties to the conflict to break this vicious cycle of attack and retaliation, which only leads to more bloodshed and victims.”
He also urged the two sides, which have been engaged in a two-decade-long conflict, to “return to the negotiating table as soon as possible, without preconditions.”
Last week, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) appealed for funds to provide basic supplies to over 155,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Batticaloa District in eastern Sri Lanka uprooted by intensified fighting between the Government and the LTTE.
In a related development, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched a new media campaign yesterday to raise awareness about how to acquire Sri Lankan citizenship.
Over the next five days, Tamil-language radio spots and newspaper advertisements will alert the public on the country’s citizenship laws. The campaign targets ethnic Tamils because most of Sri Lanka’s Stateless people are descendants of Indian Tamils brought to work in tea estates between 1820 and 1840 when the country was a British colony.
The 1988 and 2003 Citizenship Acts were passed to resolve the problem of stateless people in the country, but some of the so-called “Hill Tamils” have not been able to the documents necessary to become Sri Lankan citizens.
This latest campaign is UNHCR’s second large-scale effort, the first having occurred in 2003 and 2004, to reduce statelessness in Sri Lanka.