On Sri Lanka, Still No UN Cease
Fire Call, UNICEF is Blocked, Japan Presence Wasted
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 12 --
While the UN on Sri
Lanka again declined Thursday to call for a cease fire, it
wasted an opportunity to engage Japan's minister for Sri Lanka, Yasushi
to help it regain balance and credibility on the issue. Akashi met with
deputy, Asha-Rose Migiro, on the 38th floor at noon. Inner City Press
both the UN spokesperson and Japan's Ambassador, about the purpose of
meeting. "Just a courtesy call," both said. If true, that's a
Inner City Press asked the head of the
Department of Political
Affairs, Lynn Pascoe, what the UN is going to protect Tamil civilians
ensure their rights. Pascoe replied that
Ban has sent "my division chief to the area" -- apparently, the
political director Ban
referred to on February 10 -- and that Ban spoke with
the president. Pascoe said that the humanitarian problem is "well
reported," contrary to Ban's acknowledgement on February 10 that is it
But Pascoe said that the UN is also concerned with longer term
between the communities." Video here,
from Minute 4:27.
Asked if the UN is calling for a
that the UN has in the past called for a ceasefire. Now, he said, the
with with the civilian population. Why Ban stopped calling for a
what that might have to do with the meeting three weeks ago with the
advisor and brother to Sri Lanka's president, a meeting that Pascoe as
Vijay Nambiar attended, should still be explained.
Of Mexico's request for a Security
no Sri Lanka,
sources tell Inner City Press that pressure's been brought to bear
request by some of Columbo's allies, who insist that it is a purely
matter. Why or whether Mexico will cave to this is not known.
Japan's Akashi and Sri Lanka's president, cease fire
call not shown
The UK's John Sawers,
whom Inner City Press has previously asked on-camera why the UK doesn't
it in the Council, said he didn't know about UK
envoy Des Browne being barred
from Sri Lanka, but that the UK is concerned. Why not then ask for
A request to the French mission gleaned a response of, I don't know our
position. The third-highest official in the U.S. Mission says her
be supportive of a briefing, but it has not asked for one. It was
Inner City Press, once a request like Mexico's has been made, others
see what happens. In this case, silence means or tracks more deaths.
The UN provided a read-out of civilians
Vanni region, but
still couldn't say which of its officials or staff are in the region,
barred from it. UNICEF provided responses to Inner
City Press' questions of the
Inner City Press: Are there areas of Sri Lanka
which UNICEF does not have access?
Yes. On 16 September 2008, the government informed the United Nations
could no longer guarantee the safety of UN staff in the Vanni (the
area of Sri Lanka where the LTTE held most of its territory). As a
UN agencies temporarily relocated out of the Vanni to Vavuniya, the
since mid-December UNICEF has sent supplies to the affected populations
of UN convoys. These include hygiene kits, expectant mothers kits,
water tanks, chlorine for safe water, mosquito nets, materials for
education supplies and clothes for children.
Inner City Press: How large and where are
UN estimates there are 230,000 civilians trapped in an area that is
square kilometers in the north east of Sri Lanka to whom UN
convoys currently do not have access. Due to hostilities, UN convoys
been able to access many of these people for more than three weeks. It
likely that people in this area currently face a scarcity of food and
water, insufficient health facilities and poor shelter and UNICEF has
grave protection concerns.
Inner City Press: Would UNICEF call for a
If not, why not?
would welcome a cessation of hostilities.
We'll have more on this -- watch this site.
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16, 2009 debate about Gaza
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review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
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City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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