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On Sri Lanka, Requests for UN Council Session Languish, Camp Questions Go Unanswered

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

UNITED NATIONS, February 25 -- As the UN defers all Sri Lanka questions until the belated return of its top humanitarian John Holmes to New York on Friday, even those expressing concern for civilians seem to lack the courage of their convictions. While the UK's David Miliband was quoted that in London that "a failed resolution -- one that faces a veto -- is worse than no resolution at all... I can assure him that our diplomats, whether in New York or in the region, are all working off the same script," in New York the UN says that there is no request for a Security Council briefing, by the UK or anyone else.

  It should be noted that the UK put to the vote, and received two vetos, a resolution on Zimbabwe. In this case, the UN says the UK has not even asked for a meeting.

  While it is reported that "Human Rights Watch is urging the United Nations Security Council to hold a special session to address Sri Lanka's humanitarian catastrophe," when Inner City Press on Wednesday asked HRW's Advocacy Director about the status or progress of the urging, the request didn't seem to have been made. Everyone, it seems, it playing for time.

UK's Miliband and Amb. Sawers: working on same script? Council meeting request not shown

  At Wednesday's UN noon briefing, Ban Ki-moon's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe read out an item about the UN World Health Organization asking for $7 million for internally displaced people in Sri Lanka. Inner City Press asked Ms. Okabe if this or any other UN money would be used for the detention camps that Sri Lanka is construction. Let's wait until John Holmes comes back, Ms. Okabe answered. But Inner City Press asked Holmes this question before he left, in light of a funding appearl the UN made, and still no answer has been received. Nor to first hand accounts of problems in the camps, sent for comment to Holmes and his spokesperson in New York.

  India's foreign minister is slated to be in Colombo on Friday. It is not known if the idea of airlifting civilians out of the conflict zone will be discussed. The UN's Holmes' answer was that he had not taken part in any such discussions. See no evil, hear no evil, seems to be the UN's approach. Watch this site.

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.

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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

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