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Brown pledges humanitarian aid for Sri Lanka

LONDON, April 26 (KUNA) -- Gordon Brown on Sunday pledged an extra 2.5 million for humanitarian aid to help people displaced by fighting in Sri Lanka, while reiterating calls for a ceasefire in the country's northern war zone.
Downing Street said the Prime Minister had spoken to Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaska at lunchtime to raise his concerns about the plight of civilians in the conflict area.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has spoken to Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa. The Prime Minister said he remained concerned about the plight of civilians in the conflict zone.
"He repeated his call for a ceasefire, and pledged a further 2.5 million for humanitarian aid for displaced persons." International development minister Mike Foster will visit Sri Lanka tomorrow to conduct a humanitarian assessment before Foreign Secretary David Miliband joins his French and Swedish counterparts on a trip to the island on Wednesday, the spokesman said.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a statement today "We reiterate and maintain our call for a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons. I have noted the LTTE's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam announcement of a unilateral ceasefire earlier today. I therefore urge the Government of Sri Lanka to reinstate their own ceasefire, so that those civilians who remain trapped in the conflict zone can move to safety. The safety of civilians is of paramount importance and both sides must comply fully with international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians at all times." He added ''I welcome the current visit to Sri Lanka by Sir John Holmes, UN Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs. As discussed by the Prime Minister and President Rajapaksa earlier today, I will be visiting Sri Lanka on Wednesday, 29 April, together with my French and Swedish counterparts. My priority will be to address the humanitarian situation in northern Sri Lanka and the continuing grave risk to civilians in the conflict zone.''(end) oas.ajs KUNA 270009 Apr 09NNNN