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

On Sri Lanka, UN's Ban Declines To Call for Cease-Fire, Double Standard Unexplained

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

UNITED NATIONS, May 5 -- With the UN counting the dead civilians in Sri Lanka in the thousands, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is still not calling for cease-fire, nor prepared to send a special envoy to the conflict. Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban on Tuesday why the UN has, for example, withheld the casualty figures and satellite photos of bomb craters in the supposed No Fire Zone. In a three-minute response, Ban described a "quite lengthy telephone call with President Rajapaksa covering all the pending issues." Video here, from Minute 46:11.

  The issues, however, did not included any call for a cease-fire. Ban limits his request to a "humanitarian pause;" Tuesday he did not address why the UN withheld the casualty figures until they were leaked to Inner City Press, nor why UNOSAT has still refused to publicly release satellite photos of the kind it released about Gaza, during that conflict. (Inner City Press obtained and was first to publish the UN's summary report on Gaza Tuesday morning, click here for that.)

  Inner City Press asked if Ban is thinking of sending a dedicated envoy to Sri Lanka, as witnesses say last month's Security Council president Claude Heller asked him to do at a closed door lunch meeting in late April. "That, we can discuss later," Ban said. It was unclear if by later he meant after what some are calling the final "solution" in the conflict zone, or later in the day or week.

UN's Ban, Bob Orr and Vijay Nambiar, call for cease-fire not shown

  The temporary or one-time envoy Ban Ki-moon did send, his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, has a brother Satish Nambiar who was quoted that week by the Sri Lankan army that

"Sri Lankan Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka has displayed the qualities of a great military leader nations are blessed with from time to time... Resurrected from the grave as it were after the attack on him some years back, he has displayed a single-mindedness of purpose in pursuing his goal of decimating the LTTE. Needless to say, he has been able to achieve his objective because of the full support and encouragement provided by the political establishment led by President Rajapaksa... As someone who was briefly involved with the peace process in Sri Lanka in 2002-2003, I have already acknowledged the outstanding performance of the SL security forces and the efforts of General Fonseka, a person I met on a number of occasions during my visits to Sri Lanka during 2002-2003 and developed great respect for, both as an individual and as a soldier."

    While perhaps Vijay Nambair -- who refused to speak with the Press after his brief visit to Colombo -- and his sibling Satish are not as close as the three brother who run Sri Lanka, still the above highlights the need for the UN to send another envoy, and fast, among other actions. Watch this site.

  Here is the UN's transcript of Ban Ki-moon's response, to Inner City Press' questions(s) --

Inner City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, I appreciate the number of calls you've made to the President of Sri Lanka. Some questions have arisen about the UN's objectivity and protection of civilians there. What people are saying is that, for example, the number of civilian casualties were compiled by the UN, but not released. Recently there have been satellite photos that were taken by UNOSAT, but, unlike in Gaza and Sudan, weren't released.

 When UN staff were detained in IDP camps, nothing was said until the question arose here. NGOs were driven out of the northern part of the country and nothing was said. I guess what people have wondered is why in this conflict you didn't call for a ceasefire, only for a humanitarian pause. Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar went, and you said there was a commitment to a humanitarian assessment team. I don't mean to make a litany here, but why is this conflict different?

 Are you, in fact calling for a ceasefire? If the Security Council can't discuss it, would you invoke Article 99? What's your view of civilians standing there getting bombed from the air – it seems like you're treating it differently than you have from the situation in Gaza certainly, and Darfur, on humanitarian grounds.

S-G Ban Ki-moon: Thank you very much for your question. It is very important and useful that the agenda - this issue of Sri Lanka should always be kept as a high priority on the agenda of the international community. That is why I have been spending, again, quite a significant time in addressing this issue. This morning, I had a quite lengthy telephone call with President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa covering all the pending issues. The highest priority is on the humanitarian issues - how we can protect the civilians still caught in the war zone. The situation is quite worrisome at this time, where we have not been able to see much progress in evacuating people trapped there. We have been trying to provide, through ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and our UN Mission, to provide humanitarian assistance, but it is far [too] short to feed them.


  As far as UN staff detained, I was told this morning that all the people whose names have been provided by us have been released. This is what he told me this morning. That was encouraging. I have again and again urged him to allow the UN humanitarian team into the conflict zone, not only these IDP camps. John Holmes was able to visit the IDP camps and humanitarian teams were able to visit there. Since they are still confronting militarily, this is a very difficult situation, even for the Sri Lankan Government to ensure safety and security. While the Sri Lankan Government is allowing us to approach by ship through ICRC, my position was that it's not enough – they should be able to land and deliver all humanitarian assistance and assess the exact situation; how many people are trapped and how the international community can help them evacuate safely to a safe zone. I am working on that, in close coordination with many members of the international community. As you know, already, many European leaders, Foreign Ministers also have visited - some parliamentarians from Europe are going to visit. We will continue to do that until we can see the end of this, a resolution. I have made it quite clear to President Rajapaksa that the United Nations stands ready to provide any post-conflict facilitation.

Inner City Press: Have you thought about sending an envoy? 

SG: That, we will discuss later on.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

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

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] -