Sri Lanka Humanitarian Crisis -- UN Urgent Action!
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon United Nations Headquarters UN Headquarters First Avenue at 46th Street New York, NY 10017 Your Excellency, It is with the utmost urgency that we plead with you to immediately attend to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka and to directly intervene to ease humanitarian suffering and human rights violations. It is well known that Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the LTTE are currently engaged in what is clearly an undeclared war. In the first two weeks of 2007 the UN has already issued multiple statements noting the grave and deteriorating conditions in the north and east of Sri Lanka, condemning the recent violence, including suicide bombings and air strikes, and the calling for protection of civilians. Over the past six months, the UN and the international community have repeatedly urged the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE to resume peace talks. While both parties claim to be committed to a peaceful resolution of what is ultimately a generations-long conflict, such claims have proven to be hallow promises. Despite repeated position statements and urgings for resumption of the peace process, conditions deteriorate every day. As you are well aware, the situation in the north and east of Sri Lanka is disastrous, and the Sri Lankan Tamils who populate this region are suffering untold horrors. Since land-based entry to Jaffna was cut off in August 2006 with the closure of the main highway, 500,000 civilians in the peninsula have not had access to basic food, fuel, medicines and other essential commodities. In recent weeks, a reported 20,000 people have fled Vaharai due to a surge in violence; 15,000 people remain trapped in this region and are on the verge of death due to starvation. Conservative estimates put the death of civilians since August 2006 at 3,000. Two decades of conflict has resulted in the death of close to 70,000. A statement issued by the UN on January 8, 2007 notes that the humanitarian situation in the eastern region of Vaharai is