LTTE Headquarters,
Tamil Eelam.

09 August 1997


We regret to note that the UNHCR has issued a statement accusing the LTTE of hindering its efforts to transport displaced civilians to Jaffna peninsula, thereby blocking humanitarian assistance to the affected population.

This accusation is false and malicious, and is based on misconceptions about our concern for the safety and security of Tamil civilians under Sri Lankan military occupation in Jaffna.

On the instigation of the Sri Lankan government, the residential representative of the UNHCR met us and requested our co-operation to transport displaced Tamil civilians to Jaffna peninsula. While appreciating this offer of assistance, we sought guarantees from the UNHCR for the safety and security of the people to be transported to Jaffna.

We explained the appalling human rights situation in Jaffna, particularly the large-scale disappearances of persons recently returned to their villages in the peninsula. We also pointed out the nature of harassment to which the returnees are subjected to, i.e. detention in special camps, interrogation and torture. In this context, we also pointed out several cases of refugees transported from India to Jaffna by the UNHCR who have lost their lives as a consequence of Sri Lankan military offensive operations.

The representative of the UNHCR showed no sympathy to our concerns and refused to offer any guarantee to the safety of the returnees. Therefore, we had no alternative other than to turn down their offer of transport.

We also wish to point out that the UNHCR is fully aware of the conditions of existence of the displaced civilians in the Wanni area. Having intensified the military offensive operations in the region, the government has cut down the food and medical supplies and suspended relief assistance to the displaced people with the calculated aim of forcing the displaced population to flee the area.

In these circumstances, we are disappointed to note that the UNHCR delegation in Sri Lanka has been observing studied silence over the continuing military atrocities and economic embargoes in Tamil areas, but at the same time finds it appropriate to criticise the LTTE for requesting legitimate guarantees for the safety and security of the displaced Tamil civilians.

We deeply regret that on such a delicate issue concerning the well being of the Tamil civilians that the UNHCR has found it necessary to raise the matter on the international forum prior to exhaustive discussion and consultation with LTTE representatives and without a proper balanced exposition of the contradiction.

Political Committee,
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

(English translation of the LTTE statement released by LTTE International Secretariat, 211 Katherine Road, London E6 1BU,United Kingdom. Tel:0181- 503 4294)