Sri Lanka – LTTE Attack On School Is A Grave Violation Of Rights Of Children (12 December 2006)

New York 12 December 2006 – Amidst reports of increasing clashes in the north and east of Sri Lanka leading to many casualties and the movement of internally displaced persons, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, calls for the respect of humanitarian law. "Attacks on schools and hospitals are clear violations of international humanitarian law. The recent mortar attack by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on a school in Kallar village which killed one child and wounded ten school children is a grave violation. Indiscriminate shelling by both sides against civilian targets has resulted in a great deal of suffering", she declared.

The Special Representative remains concerned about the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka and especially in Vaharai and Trincomalee where intense shelling continues for the fifth day. Civilians are direct victims of the attacks or forced to flee their homes in the midst of recent clashes. According to the UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo, 35,000 people remain trapped along a sliver of land where government forces and LTTE are engaged in a military campaign.

"This kind of warfare takes an enormous toll on children. Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim children have all suffered terribly in the last few months", added Ms. Coomaraswamy. "The government must take responsibility to secure humanitarian access to the population and the LTTE must stop placing its military hardware in civilian areas. The parties should come to an agreement with humanitarian actors on the ground on the ways and means to protect civilians", she said.

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For further information, please contact:

Laurence Gerard, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, United Nations, New York. Telephone: 1 212 963 0984. E-mail: gerardl@un.org. www.un.org/children/conflict