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Humanitarian relief to Sri Lanka

Norway is providing humanitarian relief worth Sri Lankan Rupees 150 million (USD 1.5 million) to Sri Lanka. The Norwegian government has urged both sides to an immediate cessation of hostilities. Today a Norwegian envoy will make a long-planned visit to Sri Lanka for talks with the parties.

15/08/2006 :: During the past few days, there has been intense ground fighting in eastern Sri Lanka. The hostilities follow a year in which the country has suffered severely from political violence. The fighting affects a large number of innocent civilians belonging to different ethnic groups, and there is great need for emergency relief. Particularly the Muslims have been severely affected.

“I would like to express my deep sorrow for the innocent victims of this crisis and my sympathy for their families. We hope these funds will help to relieve the most immediate suffering,” said Minster of International Development Erik Solheim.

The emergency relief will be channelled through the Red Cross and NGOs.

In an announcement yesterday, Mr Erik Solheim said: “Norway urges the immediate cessation of hostilities on both sides in order to pave the way for negotiations aimed at resolving the water dispute. The LTTE must reopen the water supply to prevent further civilian suffering and damage to crops, and both parties’ military forces must withdraw to the positions they held when they entered into the Ceasefire Agreement in 2002,” said Minister of International Development Erik Solheim.

The escalation of the conflict coincides with the deterioration of the situation of the civilian Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). The LTTE has refused to cooperate with Danish, Finish and Swedish monitors since the EU included the LTTE in its list of terror groups earlier this year. On 3 August Special Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer will make a long-planned visit to Sri Lanka for talks with the parties.

“I am sending Hanssen-Bauer to Sri Lanka to discuss the future of the SLMM with both parties. The SLMM monitors from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway have done and are doing a great job in these difficult times. Their efforts have undoubtedly been decisive in getting the parties to respect the Ceasefire Agreement,” said Mr Solheim.

(August 3, 2006).

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