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Statement by H.E Ambassador Le Luong Minh

At the informal meeting of the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka New York, 26 March 09 Mr. President,

I thank Under Secretary General John Holmes for his briefing, his second today to the Council, of course on another subject and in a different context. Sri Lanka is not on the agenda of the Security Council and the format of this informal meeting points to the nature of our discussion. I thank my colleague, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka for his presentation of the situation.

 We share the concern about the derioration of the humanitarian situation in northern Sri Lanka as a result of the fighting between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, largely due to the bellicose efforts of the LTTE to avoid its final defeat. We urge all sides to undertake measures to ensure the protection of civilians and in all circumstances to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law. We have always maintained that in the situation of conflict, the protection of civilians must be a priority that all sides have to take into careful consideration. In this connection, we welcome the commitments by the Government of Sri Lanka to that effect, especially those relating to the safe zone, to the use of heavy weapons, and to access for evacuation activities and delivery of humanitarian assistance. We commend the humanitarian organisations and the UN country team in Sri Lanka for their efforts to help victims and request all sides to facilitate their activities.

 In a final note, let me reaffirm our view that the conflict raging in northern Sri Lanka now is one between a sovereign government and a terrorist organisation, universally condemned and outlawed. The Government of Sri Lanka has its legitimate right to take appropriate measures to restore the country’s security and stability. The LTTE must not use civilians as hostages to prolong the conflict and must be held accountable for such actions.

 I thank you, Mr. President.

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