Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London, joined members of the Tamil community in London this weekend to discuss the conflict in Sri Lanka.
About 100 people attended a public meeting with the Thames Tamil Association in Greenwich on Saturday [February 7], among them those with relatives in the area currently suffering the terrible effects of the conflict. Jean heard from Tamils living in London of their concerns for loved ones in Sri Lanka. Many have had no contact with them for days; others spoke of relatives who have been injured or killed in the fighting.
Jean is calling for an immediate ceasefire on the island, and for urgent action to free the 250,000 civilians trapped at the heart of the war zone.
“An immediate ceasefire on both sides is imperative. The situation in Sri Lanka is deteriorating by the day. A quarter of a million people are now trapped, and the fighting is getting ever closer to these civilians. It is crucial that the humanitarian corridor is opened up, to let these people out and to let desperately needed help, in the form of medical care, food, and mobile phones, in.
“It’s also time to let the rest of the world in. We have to ensure that international aid agencies are allowed safe access to the most vulnerable people, and can carry out their vital work without impediments of the kind we saw last Friday [February 6], when the Red Cross came under attack after false rumours that it had ordered 35,000 body bags in expectation of huge fatalities among Tamil fighters.
“While it remains impossible to build up a clear picture of exactly what is happening inside the conflict zone, because of the restrictions on journalists, we must maintain the pressure from the outside, and ensure that bringing an end to the suffering of innocent civilians remains a priority in the UK, Europe, and across the world.
“We need international monitors in Sri Lanka as a matter of urgency to assess the scale of the humanitarian crisis and lead moves towards a long-term political solution that will bring peace to the island and an end to violence and intimidation”