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Federal Government calls for humanitarian relief for civilians in Sri Lanka

22.01.2009 - Press release

The ongoing fighting between the Government and rebels in Sri Lanka has left well over 300,000 civilians along a 30 km stretch of coast in the north-east of the country cut off from international aid.

Commenting on the worsening humanitarian situation, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today (22 January) issued the following statement in Berlin:

"The Federal Government is deeply concerned by the situation in Sri Lanka. Over 300,000 refugees in the rebel-controlled areas lack the most basic supplies. They have been completely cut off from international help for more than ten days. The most important thing now is to agree on a truce so that the civilians in the contested areas can receive aid deliveries and medical care.

I also call on the parties to find a political solution as quickly as possible. The conflict in the country cannot be solved by military means alone."

Since the ceasefire ended at the beginning of 2006, the fighting between government forces and the Tamil Tigers has gained in intensity. The Government has now taken the entire area held by the rebels except the area around the town of Mullaitivu in the north-east of the country.

The Government instructed international aid organizations to leave the combat zone back in September 2008. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are the only aid organizations that remain there. According to the ICRC, all attempts so far to negotiate access for aid deliveries with the parties or to get them to agree to the establishment of small secure zones have failed.

The Federal Foreign Office is making another million euro available to the ICRC in order to provide support for the people who have managed to escape from the combat zone and to prepare help and relief for the civilians who have not yet been reached. Since 2006, the Federal Foreign Office has made a total of 5.9 million euro available from its humanitarian aid budget for the victims of the conflict.

Germany's development cooperation had to be curtailed following the resumption of the civil war.

Read more on Germany's bilateral relations to Sri Lanka:

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