Wednesday, 11 February 2009 12:41
I have been absolutely horrified to see the escalation of violence in the North-East of Sri Lanka, and have found the resultant loss of civilian life and deterioration of humanitarian conditions both appalling and deeply distressing.
Last week I hosted a meeting at the Sivayogum Temple which was attended by over 400 local residents of Tamil origin. I have also recently met with local resident representatives of British Tamil Forum, White Pigeon, Sivayogum Temple and South London Tamil Welfare Association and the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Bill Rammell MP, to discuss what more needs to be done to end the huge suffering.
I am determined to do all I can to put an end to the horrendous situation. I was pleased to see that Foreign Secretary Rt Hon David Miliband MP has called for an immediate ceasefire in the region and I wholeheartedly support this position. I have arranged to meet with the Foreign Secretary to discuss how we can achieve this. In addition, I have written to Mr Miliband formally outlining my position and representing the views of the numerous constituents who have contacted me on the matter. I enclose a copy of my letter for your interest and will be sure to forward the reply I receive on to you.
In addition, I have lobbied the Government to increase its aid budget to Sri Lanka to help to ease the situation of civilians. I was therefore very pleased that International Development Secretary Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP recently pledged a further £2.5 million in aid to Sri Lanka to alleviate the crisis. This is in addition to the £2.5 million pledged in aid in October last year which was channelled through NGOs (such as the United Nations Agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Food Programme) rather than handed over to the Sri Lankan Government. I have sought assurances from the Government that this latest aid will also be channelled through NGOs rather than the Government of Sri Lanka and they have confirmed this is the case.
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