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Conflict of Sri lanka.

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Thu, 5th February 2009

CONFLICT OF SRI LANKA Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate

The Coalition joins the Australian government in expressing its concern for the escalating humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka’s north as indeed it has done since October 2008.

The Coalition welcomes Australia’s increase in monetary aid to assist those affected in Sri Lanka, as announced by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith today, especially recognising the difficulty of ensuring aid reaches those in need.

The plight of Sri Lankan civilians in the north raises serious international concern, with the United Nations describing the current situation as a “humanitarian crisis”.

While there are conflicting reports over the number of people trapped in areas occupied by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) - with aid agencies estimating upwards of 250,000 - approximately 70,000 people have lost their lives as a result of the fighting inside Sri Lanka since the start of this Civil War.

Delivering assistance in the form of medical and food aid, Australia has offered a helping hand through its financial assistance to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations and Non-Governmental Organisations.

The Coalition supports the Australian Government in its call for a ceasefire between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government and encourages all parties to respect the ‘safe areas’ that have been nominated by the Sri Lankan Government.

We welcome the call of the so-called Tokyo Co-Chairs (Norway, Japan, United States and European Union) statement urging the LTTE to discuss with the Government of Sri Lanka ways to end the hostilities including the laying down of arms and the renunciation of violence, to assist those desperate civilians caught up in the conflict and unable to leave the area.

The Coalition also urges the LTTE to free civilians currently trapped within the conflict.

The lessons of history confirm that a political solution is the only effective way to end the violence, resolve the conflict, and provide a durable peace in Sri Lanka.

The Coalition joins the Australian Government in calling for a peaceful resolution to this conflict as soon as possible for the sake of all citizens of Sri Lanka.