UN sending mission to Sri Lankan conflict zone, but will they be allowed in?

April 24, 2009

Yesterday, I wrote that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had announced that a U.N. humanitarian team would be sent to the conflict zone in Sri Lanka to assess the situation and try to protect the trapped civilians.  This was apparently with the agreement of the Sri Lankan President.

Well, today, the Sri Lankan Human Rights Minister said at a press conference that intense fighting between the army and the opposition Tamil Tigers in the conflict zone was making it “virtually impossible” to allow any U.N. staff to visit the zone.  The U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said today that the U.N. had an “agreement in principle” with the government for a team to visit the zone, while another U.N. official reported today that a U.N. team had traveled to the north of the country but hadn’t yet received permission to enter the conflict zone.

Of course, no one wants to endanger the lives of the U.N. team by putting them in the middle of the crossfire.  So, we need a pause in the fighting to allow the team in to do their workThe Sri Lankan government and the Tigers must immediately agree to that and to cooperate with the U.N. team.