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Amnesty International Calls on President Obama to Urgently Act to Prevent Human Tragedy in Sri Lanka

Human Rights Organization Urges the President to Put His Words Into Action

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International calls on President Obama to urgently act to prevent the indiscriminate killing of civilians in the current conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka.

The human rights organization appreciated the strong comments by President Obama on May 13, in which he said that he was "saddened by the desperate news" coming out of Sri Lanka, and "without urgent action, this humanitarian crisis could turn into a catastrophe."

President Obama said political issues must be set aside to "put the lives of the men and women and children who are innocently caught in the crossfire" first.

"The crisis is already a catastrophe. It's time--right now--for President Obama to put his words into action on behalf of Sri Lankan civilians," said Amnesty International USA's deputy executive director Curt Goering. "Any further delay will have drastic consequences for the people caught in the crossfire."

These calls follow reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that its staff is witnessing an "unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe" in Sri Lanka. The ICRC said yesterday that its ferry had been unable to deliver aid or evacuate the wounded for three days. No humanitarian organization can help civilians in the current circumstances. The United Nations told the BBC that the next 24 to 48 hours would be critical.

The total estimated casualty figures of the conflict since January are more than 7,000 killed and 13,000 injured.

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