EU voices concerned over Sri Lanka violence

BRUSSELS, September 15, 2008 (AFP) – EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel on Monday expressed “grave concern” at the escalation of violence in Sri Lanka and called for human rights laws to be respected. Civilians should also be guaranteed safe passage to leave the conflict area “and relocate in safer areas,” he added.

“I’m deeply troubled by the escalation of the violence in Sri Lanka and the terrible impact it is having on the lives of so many innocent civilians,” Michel said in a statement

“The situation is made all the worse because international relief efforts are having to be suspended because the safety of humanitarian workers cannot be ensured,” he added.

“I would remind all sides to fully respect international humanitarian law.”

Fresh fighting has broken out across Sri Lanka’s tense north, leaving 20 Tamil Tiger rebels and one soldier dead, the defence ministry said Monday.

Sunday’s fighting raised the number of rebels killed by troops since January to 6,542, while 635 soldiers have lost their lives during the same period, according to a ministry toll.

Tens of thousands of people have died on both sides since the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) began fightin