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UN, aid agencies appeal for civilian protection in Sri Lanka as over 100,000 flee

UN, aid agencies appeal for civilian protection in Sri Lanka as over 100,000 flee

Increasing fighting in Sri Lanka between Tamil separatists and the Government has forced well over 100,000 civilians to flee their homes in the eastern district of Batticaloa, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and aid agencies working in the country said today, urging both sides to ensure their protection and comply with international human rights law.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Country Team, which is chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator, expressed concern at the number of internally displaced, warning that this was “creating further pressure on an already difficult situation that will require more resources and capacity from all actors.”

“As fighting continues, we are also worried for the safety and protection of all civilians, as reports indicate that shelling is occurring from and to, highly populated areas,” the IASC said in a press release.

Calling on both sides to immediately ensure the protection of civilians in these areas, the Team also urged them to comply with their international human rights and humanitarian law obligations, as expressed in the Security Council resolutions on the protection of civilians and the guiding principles on internal displacement.

The UN estimates that some 70,000 people have been killed and 465,000 displaced by Sri Lanka’s more than two decade-long conflict, including nearly 205,000 uprooted since fighting escalated in April 2006 despite a ceasefire signed in 2002.