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UN's Ban sends mission to Sri Lanka

UN's Ban sends mission to Sri Lanka

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he was urgently dispatching an expert team to northeastern Sri Lanka to assess the worsening situation of civilians caught in a war zone.
Ban said the United Nations was "most concerned at the rapidly deteriorating situation" and said the U.N. stood ready to answer calls to provide emergency aid.
The U.N. Security Council expressed concern Wednesday in New York at the plight of civilians trapped in a tiny coastal strip still controlled by the Tamil Tigers, who have waged a 25-year war of independence against government forces.
The council called for Tamil rebels to lay down their arms, renounce terrorism and join political talks to end the conflict.
"I ... strongly urge all the parties concerned to respect the call of the Security Council in full and without further delay," Ban told reporters in the margins of a conference on Somalia. "Many lives are at stake."
The U.N. chief said he would immediately send out a team of humanitarian experts to "monitor the situation and support humanitarian assistance and to try to do whatever we can to protect the civilian population."
Sri Lankan officials say up to 20,000 civilians remain in the war zone while over 100,000 have escaped the conflict zone so far this week.
Sri Lankan officials asked for international aid on Thursday to help the remaining civilians there, after relief groups warned that casualties were rising rapidly.
Only two ill-equipped makeshift hospitals function in the tiny zone and relief workers are struggling to cope with a shortage of medicine.
Ban said it was "critical" Sri Lanka allow the team into the restricted zone. "I am asking for support for speedy assistance from the Sri Lankan government," he said. "So many lives have been sacrificed, there is no time to lose."


Updated : 2022-01-23 07:09 GMT+08:00

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