190,000 civilians trapped in Lanka fighting: UN official
The condition of more then 190,000 civilians trapped by fighting in northern Sri Lanka between government forces and the LTTE is "extremely worrying," according to top UN relief official. Even as forced recruitment continues within the combat zone, the LTTE refuses to allow civilians out of the area.world Updated: Mar 27, 2009 15:14 IST
The condition of more then 190,000 civilians trapped by fighting in northern Sri Lanka between government forces and the LTTE is "extremely worrying," the top United Nations relief official has said.
Addressing reporters after an interactive Security Council discussion on Sri Lanka on Thursday, under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes said forced recruitment continues within the combat zone, and the LTTE is not allowing civilians out of the area.
UN estimates that the conflict zone shrank from 300 square kilometres to nearly 58 square kilometres in February, with many civilians, Holmes put the number between 150,000 and 190,000, sheltering in a 14-square kilometre "no-fire" zone in the Vanni region.
"Our first appeal is to the LTTE to let the civilians out in a safe and orderly fashion," Holmes said.
He also called on the Government to do all they can to avert civilian casualties and not to use heavy weapons in the area.
The official said he also reiterated during the discussions a call for a "humanitarian pause" in fighting to allow much-needed relief in and to allow people to leave.