GENEVA, April 24, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on Friday rejected calls for a humanitarian pause in the Tamil conflict, saying temporary ceasefires did not work. “The largest number of civilians who have come out (of the conflict zone) came out not during the humanitarian pause, not as a result of the humanitarian pause,” said Dayan Jayatilleke.
“They came out as a result of a military operation which … blindsided the (Tamil) Tigers.”
The United Nations on April 17 made a fresh call for humanitarian pauses to allow civilians to flee.
Rajiva Wijesinha, who heads Sri Lanka’s government Secretariat for Coordination of the Peace Process, said in Geneva that 110,000 people have fled the conflict zone since renewed hostilities.
He added that 20,000 remain trapped in the area, while the United Nations’ estimate is around 50,000.
Jayatilleke and Wijesinha spoke in a press conference as hundreds of Tamils streamed into the main square outside the UN building a kilometre (half- mile) away to demonstrate against hostilities in the north of Sri Lanka.
Sheryl Mathavan, an organiser of the event, said “thousands are expected,” includi