New York, NY (BBN)- United Nations officials Tuesday voiced deep concerned over the impact on children of the ongoing conflict in northern Sri Lanka.

They also urged both the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable.

Thousands of civilians, including many children, have been killed or injured in the fighting since the beginning of the year, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a press statement.

UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia, Daniel Toole, said that with an estimated 50,000 civilians trapped in the conflict zone – a tiny space of just a few square kilometers – the agency fears that many more children will be killed if the government offensive continues and if the LTTE refuses to allow civilians to leave.

The UNICEF reiterated its appeal to the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.
BBN/SS/SSR/AD-13May09-1:36 am (BST)