Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

In Sri Lanka, Civilians Deaths Counted at 1898 by Locals, UN Refuse to Estimate As It Did in Afghanistan, Gaza and Elsewhere

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 18 -- As the UN belatedly dispatches its top humanitarian official John Holmes to discuss the conflict in Sri Lanka, it still refuses to call for a cease fire or even to estimate the number of civilian casualties to date. "The UN does not have a mandate to go and count bodies," its Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe told Inner City Press on Wednesday, when asked about a UN report of 2,118 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2008. In the absence of a UN estimate of civilians killed so far in 2009 in Sri Lanka, we note local sources' count of 1898. A senior UN official told Inner City Press that because Sri Lanka's government so carefully monitors anything about its offensive against Tamil Tiger-held areas, including going "absolutely nuts at the International Red Cross" for their projections, the UN is reluctant to issue any estimate about Sri Lanka -- or, apparently, a cease fire call.

  Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson Michele Montas for the UN's estimate, and whether it was higher or lower than in the Gaza conflict earlier this year. Ms. Montas said she would look into it, and subsequently added to the transcript of the briefing was the line, "The Spokesperson later clarified that the United Nations does not generally issue casualty figures.  When the recent United Nations flash appeal for Gaza was launched, for example, it attributed its casualty figures to the Palestinian Ministry of Health."

  At the UN's February 18 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas' Deputy Marie Okabe for the source of the UN's recent report of 2,118 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2008.  Ms. Okabe said the UN has to rely on "local authorities." Inner City Press noted the UN's dispute with the authorities of Myanmar about how many people died in the wake of Cyclone Nargis last year. Ms. Okabe replied that local authorities include "hospitals, NGOs, people on the ground." But why then no estimate at all about Sri Lanka? Ms. Okabe said she had "nothing to add to what Michele [Montas] told you yesterday." Video here, from Minute 11:19.

Condition of medical care

  Since there is nothing to add, we can only cite the addition attached here and below, which tabulates over 5000 injured, and 1898 killed, since January 1. It lists dates and place-names since January 26. If government or UN figures emerge we will report them.

Update -- the following was received:

Subj: Fw: Your question on Afghan casualty report
From: [Deputy Spokesperson at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 2/18/2009

Further to my answer please refer to the methodology outlined below and contained in the report to which you referred to at the briefing, further information is contained in the report which can be found on:

In undertaking investigation and analysis of specific incidents, UNAMA Human Rights endeavours to corroborate and cross-check all information from as wide a range of sources as possible including, for example, testimony of victims, victim’s relatives, and witnesses, health personnel, community elders, religious leaders and tribal leaders, pro-government military forces, local, provincial, regional and central Government officials, United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), mass media, published reports and documents, and other secondary sources.

Subject Your question on Sri Lanka

 You had asked earlier who was the "political director" that the Secretary-General had mentioned sending to Sri Lanka.  I can confirm that Tamrat Samuel, Director of the Asia and Pacific Division of the Department for Political Affairs, traveled earlier this month to Sri Lanka for consultations with the country team on the ground.

   But the UN has yet to give a read-out on Ban's "political director's" visit to and consultations in Sri Lanka...

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner 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.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -