Practice Relating to Rule 55. Access for Humanitarian Relief to Civilians in Need
Section A. Access for humanitarian relief
In 2008, in a statement on the situation in Sri Lanka, the Minister of External Affairs of India stated:
The situation in Sri Lanka remains a matter of grave concern to us in India. We are particularly worried about the humanitarian effect of the continuing conflict on civilians who have been caught up in circumstances not of their making. It is essential that … food and other essential supplies be allowed to reach them.
In 2008, in a statement in Parliament on the situation in Sri Lanka, the Minister of External Affairs of India stated:
The situation in Sri Lanka is of serious concern to the Government, in particular the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the northern part of Sri Lanka. … We have emphasised to the Sri Lankan Government that … food and essential supplies be allowed to reach them unhindered.
In 2008, in a statement on the situation in Gaza, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India stated:
The Government of India condemns the recent upsurge of violence in the Gaza Strip and remains concerned at the adverse effects of the closure of access points into the Strip on the prevailing humanitarian situation. There can be no justification for the denial of essential supplies including such as food and fuel to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip numbering over 700,000 persons.
In 2009, in a statement during a debate in the Lower House of Parliament (Lok Sabha) on the situation in Sri Lanka, the Minister of External Affairs and Minister of Finance of India stated:
A serious source of concern to us has been the condition of the civilians and internally displaced persons (IDPs), mostly Tamil, caught up in the zone of conflict. Estimates on the number of civilians trapped vary, but 70,000 or so are estimated to be there now. The LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] were reportedly using them as human shields.
Hon. Members may rest assured that our strong concerns for the safety, security and welfare of the civilians caught in the conflict have led us to stay actively engaged to prevent a further deterioration of humanitarian conditions. We have sent relief supplies to the civilians and the internally displaced persons (IDPs), facilitated access by international and UN organisations, and suggested ways for civilians and IDPs to escape from the conflict zone.
In 2009, in answer to a written question in the Lower House of Parliament (Lok Sabha) regarding Sri Lanka, India’s Minister of External Affairs stated:
External Affairs Minister of India visited Sri Lanka on 27th January 2009. … He also took up India’s concerns for the safety, security and welfare of the civilians with President Mahinda Rajapaksa … He was assured that the Government of Sri Lanka would take all necessary measures to minimize the effects of the conflict on Tamil civilians including providing uninterrupted relief supplies.
In 2009, India’s High Commission issued a press release entitled “Statement of External Affairs Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee on appeal to Government of Sri Lanka to work out safe passage for trapped civilians”, which stated:
There are reports that over 70,000 civilians are trapped in the conflict zone in Sri Lanka and there is acute shortage of food, water and medicines. Many innocent lives have been lost in the conflict zone. The Government of India has repeatedly expressed its concern for the security and passage to safe zones of the civilian population.
The pause in hostilities must be utilised to facilitate the movement of Tamil population out of the war-affected areas to secure locations where proper rehabilitation is possible and international aid organisations, as also the ICRC, have free access and scope to provide medical and other forms of humanitarian aid. Government of India is making arrangements to send an emergency medical unit and medicines to render medical assistance to internally displaced persons in Northern Sri Lanka.