Skip to main content

Sri Lanka

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effects of the decision of Médecins Sans Frontières to withdraw from Jaffna. (99410)

We understand that following irresponsible accusations in recent weeks in the Sri Lankan media of partisanship, and the apparent failure of the Sri Lankan government to regularise the status of their in-country staff, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) felt unable to operate safely in the Jaffna peninsula and withdrew from the area in mid-October. Given the security and humanitarian situation in Jaffna, where it is reported that over 50,000 of the civilian population has been displaced, and the wide international recognition of the impartial work of MSF in conflict areas this is regrettable. Our High Commission in Colombo raised concerns about MSF’s position with Sri Lankan government ministers in early October.

The withdrawal of MSF will unfortunately have a severe impact in the north of the Jaffna peninsula where there is already a shortage of basic medical services and supplies and patients may now have to travel to Jaffna city itself for medical treatment. We continue to urge all parties to allow relief workers and essential supplies access to all conflict affected areas to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the continuing violence.