Sri Lanka Tamil Tigers urged to lay down arms

Feb 03, 2009 (LBO) – The United States and other powerful donors involved in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict have urged Tamil Tiger rebels to surrender, to prevent further civilian casualties, saying their days were numbered. The co-chairs also urged the government and the rebels to declare a “temporary no-fire period” to allow for evacuation of sick and wounded, and provision of aid to civilians.

The statement came as concern mounted over the plight of thousands of civilians trapped by the fighting with government forces closing in on the Tigers last stronghold in the island’s northeast.

The Co-Chairs called on the LTTE and the government not to fire out of or into the no-fire zone established by the government or in the vicinity of the hospital in the war-zone where more than 500 patients are receiving care and many hundreds more have sought refuge.

They also called on both sides to allow food and medical assistance to reach those trapped by fighting, cooperate with the international Red Cross to facilitate the evacuation of urgent medical cases, and ensure the safety of aid and medical workers.

“The LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka must respect international humanitarian law,” the statement said