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On Sri Lanka, Holmes Claims UN Did What It Could, Withheld Death Figures

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 13 -- The UN's push back against its own report on its actions and inactions in Sri Lanka in 2009 began on Tuesday. John Holmes, former chief of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that the UN did all it could to protect civilians.

  But as Inner City Press exposed in 2009, Holmes' OCHA withheld and buried a first list of 2,683 civilians killed. The UN did not even call for a ceasefire.

When Holmes left the UN for a sinecure in the English countryside, Inner City Press asked him about Sri Lanka, and found him at least partially in denial. Click here for that.

  At the UN's November 13 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm that second-string (and moonlighting) report writer Charles Petrie is now in New York to present the report to Ban and make it public.

  Nesirky replied that Petrie will meet Ban "tomorrow morning" and that the report should be made public "soon after that." Video here, from Minute 9.

   After 5 pm on November 13 the UN put online Ban's schedule for November 14, with Petrie listed at 9:30 am. But the day's Media Alert does not list the meeting - although it did on November 12 list Ban's meeting with another UN official, Romano Prodi. To that meeting, non-UN photographers were allowed.

   But Inner City Press is informed that, at least for now, Wednesday's Petrie meeting with Ban will be only for the UN's own UN Photo and UNTV units. While a small example of a larger problem, wasn't the whole issue that the UN needed to be subject to scrutiny beyond itself? Watch this site.

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