Senator Casey Expresses Alarm Over Humanitarian Crisis in Sri Lanka
March 11th, 2009
In a letter organized by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), seven U.S. Senators wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on March 11 with their acute concerns over the escalating humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka. As many as 330,000 civilians remain trapped in an area of intense combat between Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“The situation in Sri Lanka is unacceptable and must be remedied as quickly as possible,” the Senators wrote.
The Senators went on to write, “An enduring peace can be achieved only through a political solution that treats the Tamil minority as equal citizens under the law. Without such an agreement, the violence will only continue.”
The letter urges the Obama Administration to continue its calls for a ceasefire and make available emergency humanitarian aid to victims in the conflict zone. In addition the Senators argued for the development of a longer-term strategy to unify international donors in conditioning long-term reconstruction assistance on tangible steps by the Sri Lankan government to effectively address the root causes of the long standing conflict. It also urges the U.S. Embassy in Colombo to explore the possibility of providing temporary refuge to Sri Lankan journalists whose safety is threatened.
On February 24th, in his first hearing as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, Senator Casey focused on the escalating violence in Sri Lanka, the growing humanitarian crisis and the prospects for a political resolution to the conflict. The subcommittee heard testimony from Jeffrey Lunstead, the former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka; Dr. Anna Neistat, Senior Researcher for Human Rights Watch and Bob Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists.
In addition to Senator Casey, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), George Voinovich (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Burr (R-NC) also signed the letter.