At UN, Russia Maintains Sri Lanka Issues Not in Council, UK
Disagrees But Does Not Act, No Ceasefire Call, Even by Holmes
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 13 -- As
reports emerged from Sri Lanka of involuntary
detention centers for civilians,
and a government minister acknowledged 40 civilian deaths a day in the
the UN Russia's Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said "we believe
believe the Security Council must stick to items on its agenda." He
there are "other fora" for information about the fighting in Sri
Inner City Press asked if that meant a so-called Arria Formula meeting
of the Council, as was held the day before about the situation in
Darfur. No, Churkin said, pointing instead
to the UN
General Assembly as the "broader public of the UN," and adding that
informal meetings took place where people were informed of the
situation." Video here,
from Minute 6:38.
It was unclear what meetings Russia's
referring to. The
spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, when asked Friday to
the new casualty figures and the reports about the camps, made much of
that Ban mentioned Sri Lanka in his travelogue briefing to the Council
February 9. Video here,
from Minute 13:10.
Several Ambassadors have
told Inner City Press that Ban merely mentioned his call from New Delhi
Lanka's president, and did not call for any ceasefire or cessation of
hostilities to protect or remove civilians.
UK Ambassador John Sawers, who Thursday
had not heard that his Prime
Minister's envoy to Sri Lanka Des Browne had been blocked, now
stand-off, and said his Foreign Minister had called his Sri Lankan
earlier on Friday. Given Sawers'
expressions of concern -- "I've spoken about Sri Lanka here before,"
he said, referring to his earlier response that Sri Lanka is not
Darfur, where the UK called on the government to stop hitting rebel
-- Inner City Press asked why the UK was not using its Permanent seat
on the Council
to at least get a briefing in the Council on Sri Lanka. "We are
sympathetic to the Council receiving a briefing," he said, adding that
this was "made clear to Council colleagues." Video here,
Mexican Ambassador Heller, outcome of request
for briefing not known
Mexico's Ambassador Claude Heller, who has yet
speak at the Council stakeout
microphone, stopped outside to talk to Inner City Press. He said that
request for a briefing (which Inner City Press exclusively reported on
eight days ago, here) has not been dropped --
conversando," he said, the conversation continues -- and said said
that Ban Ki-moon has sent a "special envoy" to Sri Lanka, from whom
the Council might later heard a briefing upon his return. But who is
envoy? Ban said his political director, while Department of Political
chief Lynn Pascoe mentioned only the head his unit for the region.
Ambassador Heller, when asked about other Latin member states saying
that the conflict
in Sri Lanka is only an internal matter, not appropriate for the
"the Council can get information on anything." We'll
It should be said as an aside, to answer
some heated letters we receive, that to be concerned for trapped
civilians is not to support terrorism. These accusations, strikingly,
resemble some used in the recent Gaza conflict.
The UN's Humanitarian Coordinator John Holmes,
asked about the
controversial camps and whether he would call for a ceasefire, said
is known about the camps, that the UN has little access to the zone. He
that causalities couldn't be counted accurately because there are "no
present." He said, regarding the humanitarian crisis, "if a ceasefire
would help, I would be in favor." Video here,
from Minute 12:57.
UK, one noted, sympathetic to a briefing in the Council on Sri
Lanka, but not requesting one. We're
told the UN's position is in flux. Watch this site.
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and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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