Sri Lanka, IMF Said Ready to Lend, Dodges Ethnic Cleansing, Where
Are Obama, UK?
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, May 20 – With the Red Cross blocked from access in Sri
Lanka to the wounded and dying, with NGOs increasingly barred from
the UN-financed camps for IDPs, in Washington the International
Monetary Fund said Thursday that it looks forward to presenting for
approval to its Board Sri Lanka's request for a $1.9 billion loan.
The statement was made by the IMF's director of external relations
Caroline Atkinson. Inner City Press online asked a follow-up during
the Fund's biweekly press briefing, which Ms. Atkinson re-stated:
please state whether as the Sri Lankan government says the proceeds
of any IMF loan would support re-housing in the north, which some
would described as ethnic cleansing?
IMF's Ms. Atkinson responded, “Perhaps it's just helpful to clarify
that when the IMF lends, it is not for specific projects. We lend to
support a country's finances. We make a loan to the Central Bank to
support reserves. Any other question?”
On March 12,
Inner City Press went to the IMF in Washington and asked Ms.
Atkinson's colleague David Hawley what safeguards were being
considered to ensure that the proceeds of any IMF loan to Sri Lanka
wouldn't be enable war or ethnic relocation. Mr. Hawley said that
things were at an early stage. Later, French
Ambassador to the UN
Jean-Maurice Ripert told Inner City Press that “the Americans are
trying to play with the loan.”
The U.S. subsequently confirmed
this, receiving human rights credit for raising the issue. The UK has
as well. After a contrary
statement by the UK Ambassador to the UN, in
response to Inner City Press' question at the UN Security
Council stakeout, UK Foreign Minister David Miliband said he didn't
think conditions for an IMF loan to Sri Lanka were right. Are they
IMF's Dominque Strauss-Kahn and Ms. Atkinson,
ready to lend to Sri Lanka
weeks ago refusing to take the question at their briefing, the IMF
says that while there is still no access to the killing zone
in the North, while doctors who reported on the war as well as
offering treatment are detained and interrogated, it wants to present
the loan for approval by its Board within weeks.
What happened, some
ask, to the ostensibly US and UK opposition? At the US State
Department this week, the Obama Administration appeared to waiver or
move on from it previous position, both on the loan and as stated by
the President following Time magazine's diagnosis that Barack Obama
was failing the Sri Lanka test.
IMF's implicit argument that it is not supporting what a government
does on the ground by lending to its Central Bank is specious. In
fact, many experts on Sri Lanka note that the government's military
offensive in the North was assisted not only by aid after the
tsunami, but even more by the proceeds, to the Central Bank, of debt
forgiveness. Now during the current crisis the IMF wants to make a
loan to the Sri Lankan Central Bank. Ms. Atkinson alluded to, but did
not give an explanation as requested by Inner City Press, of a
“larger facility” being discussed.
justice, victor's loans, some call it, as they call the UN's Ban
Ki-moon's impending visit to Sri Lanka a sort of victory tour. Inner
City Press leaves today on the UN trip. Watch this site.
Geneva on Monday, the UN Human Rights Council has scheduled a session
on Sri Lanka. There is talk of satellite photos being used, to show
deep mortar craters in the “No Fire” Zone. There are stories of
senior LTTE leaders trying to surrender, carrying white flags, shot
/ full disclosure: this reporter has been granted a visa, albeit for
only two days, gratis by the
Sri Lankan mission. A request for more
than two days resulted in instructions to write a letter, which will
be considered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “after a
background check.” Watch this site.
May 13 Inner City Press debate on Sri Lanka, here
Ambulance aflame in "No Fire" Zone, May 13, 2009
In the final week of
fighting we ran this message, from Dr. Sathiyamoorthy
Sir / Madam,
battle started since 5.30 am. Many wounded civilians were brought to
hospital and hospital is not providing services because hospital was
under shell attack. Few staff reported duty. nearly thousand patients
are waiting to get daily treatment. But even simple wound
dressing and giving antibiotics problems. So many wounded have to
die. In the ward among patients many death bodies are there.
Looking hospital seen and
hearing the civilians cry really disaster. Did
they make any mistake do the world by the innocent. But the
important sta[keholders] are just listening the situation and not
helping the people.
director of Health Services
(Now at No Fire Zone)
From the UN's
May 18 noon briefing transcript:
City Press: on Mr. Nambiar. Can you say whether while he is there
the issue...there are some saying that there are many people that are
now injured in the (inaudible) care in what had been called the no
fire zone; and that the ICRC has no access. Is this something
that...is this in the case there some doctors who used to report on
the casualty figures who have gone missing as reported in the
Guardian and the Independent. Are these issues, I mean you mentioned
he’s talking about the IDPs instead of post-conflict; what about
people that are actually at this moment sort of dying without medical
Spokesperson Okabe: Well, that’s the subject that I think John
Holmes is going to come and talk to you about right now.
City Press: Burt can you say whether Mr. Nambiar, I guess I am just
wondering... -- John Holmes is not there, Mr. Nambiar is -- is this
an issue that the UN is urgently raising with the Government or not?
Spokesperson Okabe: The Chef de Cabinet’s visit, as we mentioned
to you, focuses exactly on the same issues that I just mentioned;
which are the United Nations’ and the Secretary-General’s
concern. Now, obviously the immediate humanitarian needs on the
ground are the utmost priority for all of us.
what about the doctors?
May 7, Inner City Press
asked Associate UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq:
City Press: I wanted to ask about this invitation that’s been made
to the Secretary-General to visit Sri Lanka. First I wanted to ask
if on Monday when he met with the Ambassador of Japan, whether he was
briefed on a visit by Mr. [Yasushi] Akashi to Sri Lanka and was urged
by Japan that he should take this visit. And I also wanted to know
whether he would be in New York 11 May for the Middle East debate,
and 15 May to meet with the Chinese diplomats, that in fact this is
one reason that he is considering not going, as I have been told by
senior Secretariat staff.
Spokesperson Haq: Well, first of all, we don’t announce the trips
of the Secretary-General until they are close to occurring. And in
that regard, I don’t have anything to announce about a trip to Sri
Lanka at this stage. At the same time, as Michèle told you
yesterday, and is still true for today, if the Secretary-General
believes that visiting Sri Lanka can have an impact in terms of
saving lives there, he will certainly try to go. So he is
considering that. But part of what he is studying is what the impact
of a potential trip would be.
City Press: But if he had that belief, that would be without regard
to attending the 11 May Middle East thing or the 15 May meeting with
the Chinese diplomats? I am told that’s a major factor in his
Spokesperson: Scheduling is a separate issue. What we’re talking
about is the decision of whether or not to go. And certainly if he
can make a difference and can save civilian lives, which is what his
priority has been on this case, then he will go. At present, we
don’t have anything to announce at all in this regard, though.
Question: Just one last
one on that. I wanted to know, can you at least
confirm that he met with Ambassador Takasu on Monday in his office
inside the Security Council? Can you give a read-out of that meeting
and say why it wasn’t on his public schedule?
Spokesperson: I can confirm that he met with the Permanent
Representative of Japan. He did that, yes. It was in his office in
the Security Council. We don’t provide readouts of meetings with
Question: And why wasn’t
it on the schedule?
Spokesperson: It came up all of a sudden when he had a bit of free
time in between other appointments on a fairly hectic day.
May 8, Inner City Press asked Deputy
City Press: On the invitation by the Government of Sri Lanka to the
Secretary-General to visit, is there any progress in thinking? In
the alternative, is the Secretary-General, is he considering invoking
Article 99 or responsibility to protect or making some other move of
some type on the situation in Sri Lanka?
Spokesperson: I have nothing beyond what we’ve been saying from
this podium this week on Sri Lanka, including what the
Secretary-General himself has said earlier this week.
What Ban said
did not involve calling for a cease-fire. Watch this site.
4 in the UK with allegations of rape and
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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