Jointly expressing their "great concern" at the plight of thousands of civilians trapped in fierce fighting in north, Sri Lanka's donor Co-Chairs on Tuesday urged the Tamil Tiger rebels to lay down weapons, accept Colombo's amnesty and enter political process.
The US, the EU, Japan and Norway are four-member Co-Chairs to the Sri Lanka's donor community and were supporting the 2002 Norwegian-brokered peace process. Their statement has come amid growing concern for civilians trapped in the rebel-held northern war-zone.
"To avoid further civilian casualties and human suffering, the Co-Chairs call on the (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) LTTE to discuss with the government of Sri Lanka the modalities for ending hostilities, including the laying down of arms, renunciation of violence, acceptance of the government's offer of amnesty and participating as a political party in a process to achieve a just and lasting political solution," the statement issued by the US embassy in Colombo said.
It also called on the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE "to declare a temporary no-fire period to allow for evacuation of sick and wounded, and provision of aid to civilians".
It called on the LTTE and Colombo "not to fire out of or into the no-fire zone established by the government or in the vicinity of the Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital (or any other medical structure), where more than 500 patients are receiving care and many hundreds more have sought refuge".
"They also call on both sides to allow food and medical assistance to reach those trapped by fighting, cooperate with the ICRC to facilitate the evacuation of urgent medical cases, and ensure the safety of aid and medical workers," the US embassy statement said, demanding that both parties respect international humanitarian law.
"International efforts to persuade the LTTE to allow the civilians freedom of movement have failed. There remains probably only a short period of time before the LTTE loses control of all areas in the north," it said.
The statement said that the Co-Chairs would work with the government of Sri Lanka, India, the United Nations and others to ensure "the internally displaced people from the north are transferred to temporary camps where UN agencies, the ICRC, and humanitarian organisations will have full access and the IDPs will be treated according to international standards and re-settled in their original homes as soon as possible".
According to the statement, the Co-Chairs would also work toward "an inclusive dialogue to agree on a political settlement so that lasting peace and reconciliation can be achieved".