Sri Lanka’s top donors concerned over latest fighting

Jan 12, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s main financial backers Saturday voiced concern over the mounting bloodshed and called for a United Nations presence in the island. Japan, the United States, the European Union and Norway — the quartet known as the co-chairs — also expressed “deep concern” about rights abuses and called on Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tiger rebels to respect international law.

In a joint statement, the group said they had “deep concerns about the human rights situation and protection of civilians in Sri Lanka, and call for continued monitoring of the human rights situation by such means as to assure an appropriate role for the UN.”

However, Sri Lanka has in the past repeatedly rejected previous calls for a UN rights mission here.

The quartet also urged warring parties “to protect civilians” and allow humanitarian agencies to access “populations in need.”

The donors voiced “strong concerns” over Colombo’s decision to scrap the February 2002 truce with the Tamil Tigers put in place by Norway, which helped stem the bloodshed.

Sri Lanka announced it would formally pull out of the six-year truce on January 16, saying the guerillas ha