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Sri Lanka: Armed Conflict

Volume 487: debated on Monday 2 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka following the recent offensive by government troops on Tamil areas; and if he will make a statement. (253466)

The worsening humanitarian plight of some 230,000 trapped civilians following the Sri Lankan government's recent offensive causes great concern. We deplore such incidents as the recent shelling of a hospital.

We constantly monitor the situation through our high commission and other sources, supplemented by field visits by Department for International Development humanitarian staff. We have recently programmed £2.5 million humanitarian funding through the UN, Red Cross and non-government organisations. We are sending another humanitarian mission in the next few weeks and have agreed a further £2.5 million humanitarian funding.

But the problem will not be resolved by funding alone. We are resolute in pressing for better humanitarian access for aid convoys and other relief within safe humanitarian space. The Foreign Secretary repeated this to President Rajapakse on 30 January.