MSF Denounces Murder of Humanitarian Aid Workers in Sri Lanka

Paris/New York, August 9, 2006 – Deeply shocked by the killing of 17 Sri Lankan colleagues working with Action Against Hunger in Sri Lanka, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) demands that access to victims of the conflict there and security of humanitarian aid workers be guaranteed.

The targeted killings of members of Action Against Hunger are unprecedented, and constitute a worsening of the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka and the failure to respect the security of teams providing aid in the combat zones there. This is of concern to the entire humanitarian community worldwide.

The killings occurred in a general climate of suspicion, accusations, restrictions, and surveillance of NGOs. An independent investigation must be launched to determine the circumstances and to identify those responsible for this odious act. MSF would like to express its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and the members of Action Against Hunger.

Over the last two weeks, the populations in the Muttur region have been the victims of military offensives and the provision of aid has been prohibited. Several tens of thousands of people living in the center of a military offensive therefore lack medical assistance.

For more than two months, MSF has sought to establish two emergency medical aid projects for populations affected by the conflict in eastern Sri Lanka (between Muttur and Batticaloa) and in Point Pedro, on the Jaffna peninsula. MSF has not obtained government authorization to develop these programs. MSF calls on the parties to the conflict to guarantee humanitarian access to the victims, and to honor the security of humanitarian workers.