Asian evangelical head welcomes SL decision to end combat operations

Published 28 April 2009  |  
The head of Asian Evangelical Alliance (AEA) on Monday welcomed the Sri Lankan government's decision to end combat operations in the northern part of the country.

A statement released by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's office on Monday announced that the combat operations in the northern parts of the island have concluded and security forces have been instructed to end the use of heavy calibre guns, combat aircraft and aerial fire.

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, general secretary of AEA, in a statement appreciated the response of the island nation in halting combat operations and urged churches across the globe to remember Sri Lanka in prayer.

"Pray that the LTTE and the government of Sri Lanka will cease hostilities, respect international humanitarian norms, safeguard passage for the evacuation of civilians, and take every effort to minimize civilian casualties by making safety zones and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps," he requested.

Additionally, "pray that internationally accepted standards of protection and care are carried out within IDP camps, including the freedom of movement to civilians and access of outside aid agencies to the civilians in the camps and among other displaced communities."

Britain, the European Union, India and the United Nations have welcomed Sri Lanka's immediate response in halting combat operations and have further demanded a complete ceasefire.

The United Nations estimates that some 50,000 non-combatants are still trapped in the conflict area, while the government maintains that the number is fewer than 20,000.

Last week the UN also estimated that as many as 6,500 civilians may have been killed and another 14,000 wounded in the government's offensive this year.

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