Vienna, 19 May 2009 Press release

Spindelegger on Sri Lanka: "Government must take responsibility for its own people"

Foreign Minister announces 200,000 euros aid from Austria

Vienna, 19 May 2009 - "Even after the end of the hostilities in Sri Lanka, the humanitarian situation is still extremely critical. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees and entire regions have been devastated or mined. International aid is called for. I shall therefore propose to the Council of Ministers that 200,000 euros be made available from the Relief Fund for Disasters Abroad to provide support in cooperation with Austrian NGOs for projects to help the destitute civilian population,” said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger today. The Minister reported to the Council of Ministers about the EU External Relations Council meeting the previous day in Brussels.

Spindelegger: “It is important to establish a basis for the provision of international aid. To this end the United Nations and the international aid organisations must be allowed full access to the region and the refugee camps. The Sri Lankan government has a special responsibility in this regard towards its own people. It must demonstrate now that it represents all of the citizens of the country including members of the Tamil and Muslim minority.”

The Minister also referred in this context to the joint European initiative in the United Nations Security Council: “As a member of the UN Security Council we have urged the Security Council to address the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka. Austria will continue to call on the UN to follow the developments in Sri Lanka, in particular the humanitarian situation, very closely. We want to help Sri Lanka to set in motion a political process that will include the Tamil and Muslim minority and grant them their due rights. Only then can sustainable peace be achieved in the country.”

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