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Sri Lanka: Armed Conflict

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 24 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken in co-operation with international counterparts and organisations to bring about a peaceful solution to the Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka. (251997)

[holding answer of 29 January 2009]: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made it clear that the UK wants to see an end to the conflict and a new drive for a lasting political solution. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary repeated the Prime Minister’s call in his statement on 29 January urging the Government of Sri Lanka to announce a humanitarian ceasefire. He made this clear when he spoke to President Rajapakse on 30 January 2009. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials are in regular contact with the EU, Commonwealth and UN member state counterparts about the situation in Sri Lanka.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken in co-operation with international counterparts to persuade the Government of Sri Lanka to allow access for UN and international observers in the northern region of the country. (253351)

The UK regularly lobbies the Government of Sri Lanka to allow full humanitarian access, including monitoring in the northern regions, which are most affected by the conflict. This is done both bilaterally in talks with the Sri Lankan Government and in conjunction with international partners, through the EU, Commonwealth and UN.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised the issue of humanitarian access to the Vanni in his letter to President Rajapakse in January 2009. I also raised telephone conversations with President Rajapakse and the Foreign Minister Bogollogama, most recently on 13 February 2009.

My noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown made clear in his address to the Human Rights Council in March 2008 that the UK supports a stronger mandate and presence for the UN human rights mission for Sri Lanka.