Sri Lanka

Response to ICRC announcement on aid access to Sri Lanka

In response to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announcement that it is unable to evacuate war wounded to safety or provide aid to the 50,000 civilians trapped in the conflict zone of Sri Lanka, Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander, said:

"I am utterly appalled that the ICRC is no longer able to continue its operations in northern Sri Lanka.

"Since September last year, the ICRC has been the only humanitarian agency allowed to work in the conflict zone, and now even this lifeline has been denied to more than 50,000 people.

"Over the last four months alone, the ICRC has evacuated by ship over 14,000 sick and wounded people. Denying this life-saving evacuation and medical treatment is a fundamental violation of International Humanitarian Law.

"This deplorable situation rightly brings international condemnation of both parties to the conflict. There is simply no justification for allowing such needless suffering.

"The government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) must immediately guarantee safe access to the ICRC to restart their life-saving work."