The top United Nations relief official today called on all sides in the conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and Tamil separatist rebels to protect civilians after an army artillery bombardment yesterday hit a school sheltering 1,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), killing at least 23 people and wounding 135 others.
“Yesterday’s massive attack on civilians shows that force continues to be used indiscriminately in the conflict in Sri Lanka,” UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said in a statement.
“I call upon all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians under all circumstances in accordance with International Humanitarian Law,” he added.
The scene of the bombardment is a narrow peninsula in eastern Sri Lanka controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), hosting 30,000 IDPs who left their homes in Trincomalee province due to the fighting in August.
“The people trapped in this camp are terrified and feel that they are completely at the mercy of others,” said the Special Advisor on Sri Lanka to the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Allan Rock.
“The time has come for all parties to respect the basic human rights of these people, which are simply not being observed at the moment,” he added. After his visit to the camp today, Mr. Rock described it as a “shocking sight.”