UN Secretary-General to visit Sri Lanka

May 21, 2009

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced yesterday that he will be visiting Sri Lanka this coming Friday and Saturday, May 22-23, to visit the conflict zone and the camps for the internally displaced civilians.  The Sri Lankan government had said last Monday that its forces had defeated the opposition Tamil Tigers, killing their leaders and reconquering all the area once controlled by the Tigers.  Toward the end, the Tigers had with them an estimated 50,000 civilians who they were using as human shields and preventing from leaving the conflict area.  Around 200,000 other civilians were able to flee the war zone and have been held by the government in overcrowded internment camps which they can’t leave.  The Sri Lankan government had barred journalists and most aid agencies from the war zone for months.  The UN and other aid agencies are reportedly still trying to get access to the area.

I hope Secretary-General Ban is able to get the Sri Lankan government to open up the war zone and the internment camps to the UN, other aid agencies and journalists.  The long-suffering civilians should immediately get the care they need and be allowed freedom of movement, the same as other citizens of the country.  We need to find out what happened in the last stages of the war and hold anyone who committed war crimes accountable.