Statement by Ministers Cannon and Oda on the Situation in Sri Lanka

(No. 139 - May 21, 2009)The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, today issued the following statement on the situation in Sri Lanka:

“Canada calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to allow full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all civilians affected by the conflict in that country and to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian workers.

“Canada calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided to affected populations in accordance with international humanitarian principles. We also call on the Government to facilitate the work of humanitarian actors, including through the provision of additional visas to enable humanitarian workers to assist populations in need.

“We further call for the freedom of movement for all internally displaced persons and for the Government of Sri Lanka to facilitate the voluntary return of these persons to their homes in safety and with dignity as soon as possible. We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that the protection of and assistance for internally displaced persons are consistent with international standards.

“We call on the UN and other partners to work together to ensure a coordinated humanitarian response and to support the voluntary return and reintegration of civilians back into their communities so that they may live safe, secure and productive lives.

“We call on the Government of Sri Lanka to move forward immediately with the President’s vow to launch a political process that is inclusive of all communities in Sri Lanka. This process must ensure that all the people of Sri Lanka can live in safety and receive the full protection of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

- 30 -

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada