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U.N.’s Ban in Sri Lanka: Victory dance or somber visit?

May 24, 2009

Small children dressed in dark blue pants and light blue shirts clutched U.N. and Sri Lankan flags as they sang a song in honor of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s arrival at the Manik Farm refugee camp. This is the temporary home to some 220,000 people who fled the final battle between Tamil Tiger rebels and government forces. The camp, Sri Lanka’s biggest, was plastered with posters of a smiling Ban and Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa that said, “Welcome Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to our motherland.”U.N. officials traveling with Ban had voiced concern that his visit could be exploited for propaganda purposes in a kind of victory dance for the Sri Lankan government. The secretary-general was the first major international figure to visit the island nation since the government won a 25-year-old war against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) earlier this month. The officials said Ban would stay on message, demanding full and immediate access to some 290,000 refugees in camps in northern Sri Lanka and urging President Rajapaksa to reach out to the country’s Tamil minority to prevent a renewal of violence.During his visit to Manik Farm, Ban went to a small field hospital, where he saw severely emaciated elderly people attached to saline drips and children with shrapnel wounds. The picture could have been uglier. U.N. officials said the most severely injured – amputees, victims of mine explosions or heavy artillery blasts – were at other hospitals the delegation was not shown.A group of refugees at the Manik Farm camp, the country’s biggest displaced persons camp with over 210,000 residents, said they were outside the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka but were rounded up by the government in April and brought to the camp. Asked in New York about the refugees’ unverified comments, U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes said he had no details about any such round-ups. However, he said it was possible that some people outside what was once called the “no-fire” zone were moved by the government into the camps. He noted that all of northeastern Sri Lanka was a war zone in a sense since it had previously been controlled by the Tamil Tigers.Ban and his delegation also flew over the former conflict zone in a tiny strip of coast in northeastern Sri Lanka where U.N. officials have accused the LTTE of using hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians as human shields as they struggled to fight off government forces. During the low-altitude helicopter flight, U.N. officials and reporters saw thousands of empty tents, piles of bicycles and other personal items abandoned in a hurry when the masses of starving civilians were fled for their lives. The burnt-out buses and cars, uprooted and smashed trees and craters filled with water appeared to provide evidence that heavy weapons were despite denials from the government and Tamil Tigers.At the end of the trip, Ban met for an hour with the president to press his demands. Afterwards Ban and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogllagama spoke to reporters. Ban was asked if he saw evidence of “massive bombing” during the flight over the former battle zone. His answer was that “the fighting must have been severe.” Bogllagama was more direct when asked if he was confident Sri Lanka had committed no war crimes as human rights groups have said. His answer: “Absolutely.”Was Ban’s trip a success? One senior U.N. official told Reuters that Bogllagama repeatedly said “yes, yes, yes” in response to Ban’s demand for immediate and unimpeded access to the camps, though it was not clear when the access would come. A ban on the use of motor vehicles by U.N. or other aid agency personnel, however, remained in place for several more days as the government tried to prevent the escape of any Tigers hiding in the camps. (A few days after Ban left Sri Lanka, the government agreed to allow aid agencies to use cars and trucks at Manik Farm, though without flags and not in convoys.) Aid officials continue to complain that restrictions are crippling aid distribution in the camps.

Comments

Ban’s Visit to srilanka will drives more aids to the help of refugees as Ban officially requested International community to help Srilanka.It’s seem that Gov. of Srilanka attempt at their full but with less resources.

 

Time to wake up to the fact that the UN is now supporting the Sri Lankan government once it told the UN to get stuffed. UN can see that if you can’t beat them, join them. The world has no morals and UN leads them!

Posted by ram | Report as abusive
 

I watch in amazement the contrast in the UN’s attitude towards the various battles fought around the world, most of which are about “pre-emptying”, “Regime changing” and “Protecting national interests”, much less a country fighting in the interest of its “Very existence”. There is a host of phrases that have been in the latter day vocabulary; “Collateral damage”, “Civilian casualty figures” and “Human cost of war” where the same notion makes better headlines when re-cast as “Massacres”, “Genocides” and “Indiscriminate killing”. There seems to be a demographic dependency to the choice of these terms. While killing of scores of human beings due to ill identification of targets, or simply because there were civilians living in the immediate vicinity of the target are excused after expressions of “apologies”, or mostly denials, the same in other parts of the world triggers probes into “war crimes”. Exercising the Geneva Convention and international humanitarian laws has become a matter of demographic choice. Various states offered simple “condemnations” after the various true genocidal massacres by the LTTE (Just a few examples:. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anuradhapur a_massacre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aranthalawa _Massacre, http://www.tripwolf.com/en/guide/show/28 8860/Sri-Lanka/Kandy/The-Temple-of-the-S acred-Tooth-Relic-Dalada-Maligawa )and continued to support the LTTE separatist movement by letting them operate in their soil. A few things to note: It took 33 years (Since 1976), 1/3 of a century of various diplomatic efforts, dialogues and restrained military action which lead to an unprecedented situation, the LTTE controlling 1/3 of Sri Lanka by the year 2008. If what all it took was indiscriminate “killing” by means of deploying long/medium range weaponry of “land interest”, how could the extremely high casualty figures among the Sri Lankan armed forces be explained? War hurts. War is to be avoided at almost all cost. However, war was the last option in Sri Lanka and it wasn’t about pre-empting. It was about responding to “Provocations”. It wasn’t about “National pride”. It wasn’t about protecting our interests in other countries. It wasn’t about regime change. It simply was about keeping a country in its original shape on the world map. However, the various humanitarian organizations and politicians “Choosing their battles” to justify their publicly funded existence or “crusades of humanity”, only reveals the states of their moral bankruptcy.

Posted by Ruwan K Ratnayake | Report as abusive
 

Ban had initially been given filtered information by Nambiar ( part of an indian external affairs “mafia” all interestingly hail from the same state of Kerala in India). These folks always worked against Tamil interest in India (Narayana, Menon, Nambiar and also Sashi Tharoor).Now Ban has been given a “sugar coated” trip by Sri Lanka.UN has so far been nothing but a waste of West’s tax payer money run by people with no human values and filled with hideen agendas.

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

The GOSL has taken Ban ki moon on a conducted tour, with a reception from the children dressed up in the camps. How could you see reality?. He has been a failure in every part of the world where there was a conflict. S his visit was a waste of time and money. The out come would be zero. The GOSL has not carried out any request from the IC. They have the support of Red Block so why worry. UN aid is not required

Posted by Dina | Report as abusive
 

People do have to understand, in the past there were some so called Aid agencies helped LTTE. This is one of the major reasons that the unnecessary aid agencies are being banned from the area. Also there are lot of LTTE caders escaped among civillians at the last minute in the disguise of civillians and now they are trying to escape camps. These big trucks are the easiast way for them to escape. That’s why the vehicles being banned. Mr. Ban’s visit is a good thing for him to see the reallity of the situation and I hope Mr. Ban himself and the IC will understand that no country can lookafter and give five star facilities to sea of people when suddnly become refugees. These innocent civillians are in a bad state due to LTTE controlling them during the past and not looking after them and it is not the fault of the Government of Sri Lanka.

Posted by Ravindra Perera | Report as abusive
 

This is a humanitarian catastrophe of gigantic proportions. Sri Lanka cannot handle it alone. Sri Lana accepted similar aid during tsunami 2004, as it affected all Sri Lankans. Now the “indifference” is that these are Tamils, and Sri Lanka keeps aid agencies out. In the ‘weeding out of rebels’ process, Sri Lanka is wiping out all Tamil youth.

Posted by Kumaran | Report as abusive
 

Who is Ban to make “demands” from a Sovereign Nation member of the UN? I’d like him to “demand” an inquiry into Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Hiroshim and Nagasaki, while he’s at it.And wishful thinking aside, there is not a chance of “renewed violence” from Tamil Supremacists. There time is over.The reason why the NGOs etc are being treated with extreme caution is because they have been found red handed providing weapons and concealing the heinous crimes of the Tamil Terrorists for the past 30 years. There are no civic centers in the north, but the Tamil Terrorists had state of the art bunkers and the leaders had underground mansions and overground palaces. Please. We know the reason you are so keen to get in there – to fabricate evidence against the Sri Lankan Sinhalese Buddhists and to restart a terrorist movement.You fail.

 

Mr Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Sri Lanka should signal to the rest of the world that the civilians rescued by the government of Sri Lanka from the LTTE are being taken care of by the government to the best of their ability.It is also a good time to examine the roles played by foreign governments, NGOs, and UN officials to arm the LTTE, and spread their malicious false propaganda against the government of Sri Lanka. The results will provide a list of enemies of a united free Sri Lanka.Today the LTTE head of international affairs stated that LTTE will renounce violence. Hopefully they will also realize that with more than 100,000 deaths and scores maimed there is not a single family in Sri Lanka whether Sinhala or Tamil that has not been directly affected by this senseless war which has also destroyed the country.It is time for all Sri Lankans to admit mistakes made in the past, unite together irrespective of race, caste, or religion, heal as one nation, and rebuild Sri Lanka to the greater good of all Sri Lankans. A country where every person has a right to live any where with equal opportunities for all.Foreign governments who have aided and abetted the LTTE in the past must now work to provide aid and make sure that the IMF loan is made available as soon as possible to Sri Lanka so that Sri Lankans can stat to rebuild the country together as one nation.

Posted by CeCe | Report as abusive
 

Knowing the ground situation first hand (Being in Sri Lanka and being in touch with families of soldiers) I was amazed how biased the international media reported on the war against the terrorists (it was not a civil war, although the western media seem to stick to that word). We over here have lost faith in all international media after that. Our soldiers did an extremely trying task in protecting the refugees while attacking the enemy. We listened to our local news and got information directly. I am yet to see any of those pictures where soldiers were helping the fleeing crowds risking their own lives, on the international news media. It was very cruel to talk of genocide first and then to say `there doesnt seem to genocide but a lot of nasty things are happening’ indicating that the soldiers were misbehaving. For us in Sri Lanka we are very proud of our soldiers, these soldiers appear to be the finest in the world. It is very clear to us now that when it comes to reporting news of `insignificant’ countries what is reported depends on who is more powerful in pushing the idea and not on who is doing the correct thing.Now the situation is on IDPs. We all see that they are in a sorry state after living thru that trauma. It is still strange that the international media do not seem to accept the fact that the Sri Lankan government has to be careful, not to allow any of those remaining terrorists to escape. Instead of helping the government they seem to be only interested in digging out to report something bad. No human being would like to live in the way that the IDPs are housed specially after such a traumatic situation. But the government and the people in the south are doing their best for them.Hope all of the western media would ponder on the following: Is this how you would report if the identical situation arose in the US or UK?All right thinking people please help Sri Lanka at this juncture!Angie( I have a Jaffna tamil mother and a sinhala father, and I was brought up as a buddhist, and that combination has made me respect all religions and every living being)

 

Sri Lanka is doing the right thing in controlling the access to INGO’s and NGO. Most of these organizations have been heavily infiltrated by LTTE sympathisers and supporters. Most of their local and even International employees are Tamil sympathisers. They are unhappy because a lucrative income and a comfortable lifestyle will be lost if there is peace in Sri Lanka. They want to cause more problems to further their usefulness and duration of stay. This should not be allowed. The Opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe after his return from Norway wants the Government to suspend the PTA and emergency. We need the “Prvention of Terrorism” act now more than ever. There are still many Terrorists and sympathisers at large and should be rounded up. There are many hidden stockpiles of explosives still to be found and destroyed. The war is far from over. Ranil is the Biggest Traitor to the Sri Lankan Nation. In the USA where I live we still have anti-Terrorism laws called “Homeland Security” which is there to safeguard the Nation from Terrorist attacks. We need these special laws as long as there is a threat to the homeland.

Posted by Siri | Report as abusive
 

Thirty years of stalling, negotiation, ceasefire, terrorist attacks and stern UN statements. And all it did was freeze the conflict.But 6 months of actual war, and the issue is over.It seems to be a common tale of late. Confronted with the UN’s inability to do much at all, nations are beginning to stand up for their own interests.When it came to the crunch, Russia was able to annex a third of Georgia through force. And whatever the UN might think or do, that will be the reality of the matter.And Israel, with two short bombing campaigns, has achieved more then the last 50 years of negotiation. I think it will be some time before rockets are fired at Israel again.The UN has never done anything well. All it has done is try to stall things for as long as possible. It just adapts to what is happening on the ground. It only reacts.Just like now. Sri Lanka has solved the problem on the ground. Now the UN will adapt to the new situation.

Posted by Anon. | Report as abusive
 

Sri Lankan squeezed Wanni to kill LTTE, like squeezing a sponge with water. Now the same thing is being carried out in the concentration camps. People are not treated like any other humans in the world, they are treated like slaves, since there is no one in the world to voice for them. This is what’s happening, and nothing else!

Posted by Zorro | Report as abusive
 

First the Government claimed that aid agencies and aid workers were banned from the conflict zone because of a “concern for their safety”. Now after they claim a victory having wiped out the LTTE, and they still don’t allow aid agencies into the area because they are scared that the starving, frightened, and injured civilians are terrorists. Certainly they don’t outright say that all civilians are terrorists, but they certainly treat them as such.They government will not end their offensive until they wipe out the Tamil youth and put them in such an undeniably cruel situation that existence of Sri Lankan Tamils will soon be forgotten to the rest of the world. Though I was skeptical of the earlier claims of genocide it really does look like genocide to me now. Maybe not genocide by the conventional methods, but genocide none-the-less.I wonder when the rest of the world will wake up, I know I finally have.The UN is flawed and has failed countless times in all sorts of conflicts. They are good at expressing concerns, but their concerns are often deemed as silly and nonsensical due to they way veto system and council works. China is a veto member that helped the oppressor, and Sri Lanka, a largely corrupt nation with war criminals as it’s leaders are part of the UN. That in itself tells you quite a bit about the world we live in.

Posted by Wesley Bates | Report as abusive
 

Its obvious why they were banned from surveying the war-zone and distributing aid, and you can expect your local private media to under-report this fact lest it suddenly (tragically!) becomes normal to demand these standards of reporting in other situations where we or our allies are the culprits.In these situations there is a simple rule – If you’re not on our list of official bad guys, lying is ok but if you get caught you’re on your own.As for the UN, they are exceedingly efficient at being completely ineffective at all times. Indeed the only thing they seem to be successful at is supporting the leading members of the security councils statements of condemnation. Their only purpose is to be used as a tool of multilateral legitimization for the 4 permanent security council nations that CONTROL them.I say control because in this great democratic united nations there is no multinational democracy. Special rights are reserved for the worlds most powerful countries in order to keep them powerful and for no other reason. These special rights of the security council trump any notion of democratic practice and any popular democratic decision outside of the security council.If the UN was democratic in any way, Israel would be repeatedly condemned and have many many binding resolutions against it.As for Sri-Lanka, unfortunately without the pressure of security council powers forcing the process along, and demanding punishments like in Iran, Cuba or North Korea, then the UN will have to sit back and wait till the area has been cleaned before they go in and tomorrow it will be yesterdays news..

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

This article had brought many valuable points to world bodies.Now,Sri-Lanka is slowly coming back to normal.Indian government will give considerable amounts allotted by budget for her reconstruction of houses,for educational institutions,refugees re-habitation,and quick settlement to Tamils to their respective places.We want peace and prosperity to oppressed Tamil population.

 

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