This has been translated from LeMonde.
The United Nations deliberately hid the number of Tamil civilians being killed during the Sri Lankan government offensive against the LTTE, according to a report in the French daily Le Monde. The report, translated by FRANCE 24, quotes several UN sources alleging that high-ranking UN officials, including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, chose to keep silent about the high civilian death toll so as to avoid offending the Sri Lankan government and maintain UN operations in the country. A low figure was even leaked by the UN in mid-May, when it was known that the real toll was approaching 20,000 dead.
But UN staff working on the ground informed Vijay Nambiar, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff, that the final figures "would without doubt exceed 20,000 dead," the report said."We knew carnage was brewing," the paper quoted an unnamed UN official as saying."We rang the alarm bells for some months but no-one ever took the Sri Lankan government to task publicly. According to Le Monde, Nambiar even told UN representatives in Sri Lanka that the UN should "keep a low profile" and play a "sustaining role" that was "compatible with the government". In recent weeks, Nambiar’s role as the UN’s special envoy in Colombo has come into question, FRANCE 24 said. His brother, Satish, a former Indian general, has been a paid consultant to the Sri Lankan army since 2002.
Shortly after the Sri Lankan army’s official victory declaration, the local head of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Amin Awad, told the Arabic TV station Al Jazeera there were virtually no civilians left in the conflict zone, the article notes.But the very next day, some 20,000 refugees came out of the conflict zone, having suffered a sustained bombardment. "It gave the government a blank cheque to carpet bomb the whole area," a UN worker told the Le Monde.
Vijay Nambiar's brother, retired general in the Indian Army was hired by the Sri Lankan Government as a consultant. Gen. Nambiar wrote a glowing article about the Sri Lankan military offensive which was published in the Sri Lankan Army website.
This is what the brother of Vijay Nambiar, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff and the the pointman on the Sri Lankan crisis, said about the Sri lankan Army Commander: Sarath Fonseka Has Displayed Qualities of A Great Military Leader’- "Indian Express"
[Updated :: 2009-04-28 11:49:21 Hours || Home]
WRITING in the Indian Express newspaper, Satish Nambiar said, 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."
Nambiar is a retired Lieutenant General in the Indian Army who headed the United Nations Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia (1992-93).
Writing on the Army Chief Nambiar further said, "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
Here is the UN's actual Position....
Question: Sure, two. In Sri Lanka, the International Crisis Group has put out a report saying that the UN itself has counted 2,300 casualties since the end of January and has called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to disclose the UN’s count of casualties. Are you aware of the report and has the UN actually assembled these number as ICG says?
Deputy Spokesperson: I am not aware of it, but perhaps John Holmes can answer that one. The Secretary-General has issued a very strong statement last week that was shadowed by other developments, in which he does talk about his concerns about the mounting civilian casualties and the need to bring the fighting to an end and for the civilians to be protected there.
I remember that during the Gaza crisis, a lot of the UN staff very vocal about accusing the Israelis about many many things. But in this case they are actively complicit in hiding the facts. But they are strangely silent on the Sri Lankan Crisis. Why the double standards? And its the very same John Holmes,,,,
UNITED NATIONS, March 9 -- The UN on Monday acknowledged that it is funding camps in Sri Lanka from which people cannot leave, and that it has compiled casualty figures from the fighting which it will not release. Inner City Press, which two weeks ago published a local count of 1800 civilians killed since January, on Monday asked UN's relief coordinator John Holmes to confirm that the UN now has a count of 2300. Video here, from Minute 32:58.
Holmes said the UN has "done some of our own attempt" at a count, but "cannot verify them" and therefore will not release the figures. By contrast, the UN repeatedly uses a 300,000 figure for deaths in Darfur, regarding which many questions of verifications have been raised. The UN and Holmes are in the midst of protesting the expulsion and lay-off of half of the humanitarian workers in Darfur. But there is no humanitarian or media access at all to the conflict zone in Sri Lanka.
Some say, if the UN benefits Sri Lanka's government by refusing to release civilian casualty numbers in a zone the government blocks them from entering, more figures like Sudan's Omar al-Bashir will just keep the UN and the NGOs out, and count on the UN's on-again off-again concern about full verification.
More about the Internment Camps..
In Sri Lanka, Red Cross Barred from "Interment" Camps Despite UN's Rosy Picture
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- While the International Committee of the Red Cross went public Wednesday in Geneva with the fact that the Sri Lankan government is running interment camps to which Red Cross workers do not have access, in New York the UN's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe said that "since the Secretary General's visit to Sri Lanka, an interim measure has been agreed" in which aid agency vehicles including trucks are allowed into all Manik Farm zones, only not in convoys and not with agency flags. Video here, from Minute 2:30.
Inner City Press asked Mr. Okabe to square to the two statements, if there are camps that the UN has access to that the Red Cross does not. Ms. Okabe claimed that Inner City Press hadn't heard the statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -- in fact, it was that very positive report that Inner City Press was questioning -- and then said that OCHA's John Holmes had spoken about food needs, to the "follow up with OCHA." Video here, from Minute 15:53.
The question is not whether the UN has and can deliver food. The question is, even as to the camps it can visit is the UN enabling and blessing interment camps by providing funds and materiel? And what about the camps that the Red Cross has now said publicly it is being blocked from visiting -- is the UN there? Or does the UN not care, or not care that the public knows?
Even Dick Cheney allowed the Red Cross into Guantanamo Bay.....
AND NOW THE UN TELLS US....
U.N. under-secretary-general John Holmes, who oversees the United Nations' many humanitarian operations, told Reuters in an interview that it was unclear how many died in the months before Sri Lanka declared victory over the LTTE on May 18.
He also disputed a death toll reported in The Times of London that cited a "U.N. source" to support an estimate that at least 20,000 people were killed during the months-long final siege.
"That figure has no status as far as we're concerned," Holmes said. "It may be right, it may be wrong, it may be far too high, it may even be too low. But we honestly don't know. We've always said an investigation would be a good idea."
HONESTLY???? GOOD IDEA????
And this is the John Holmes who said just four months ago about Gaza which in terms of destruction and loss of life is a fraction of what happned and is happening in Sri Lanka. (and this is not to equate tragedies, any life lost anywhere is tragic
John Holmes, the UN secretary general's representative, has said that he was shocked at the deteriorating humanitarian condition in the Gaza Strip, describing it as "grim".
Holmes told a press conference in Gaza that the rate of poverty and unemployment had reached horrific percentages, and that thousands of people were losing their sustenance.
The closed Gaza crossings were worsening the conditions in the Strip, he said, demanding an immediate opening of the crossings to allow freedom of movement for the inhabitants of Gaza and to allow their export-import traffic
Cat got your tongue, John Holmes?
In Feb 2009, the US Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly to condemn Israel.
The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council strongly condemns Israel for its military operation in Gaza and for what it said was gravely violating the human rights of the Palestinians. The resolution also calls for an independent fact-finding mission to investigate all violations of international human rights law.
The resolution was drafted by Arab, Asian and African countries. It passed by a vote of 33 in favor, one against and 13 abstentions.
On the other hand::
Sri Lanka garnered a powerful group of allies including China, Cuba, Russia, India and Islamic states, defeating a European bid to have an internal investigation into alleged war crimes by both sides in the civil war.
Instead, the council on Wednesday passed by a 29-12 vote a Sri Lankan-authored resolution that congratulated the government in Colombo for its efforts to address the needs of civilians displaced by the fighting. The measure also acknowledged the government’s commitment to provide access to international humanitarian agencies – "as may be appropriate."
Oh, the Irony of it all....
U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization, pointed out that Sri Lanka, while a member of the council from 2006-2008, had voted 23 times for resolutions that took the opposite stand on the question of "interference" in domestic matters – in 19 cases involving Israel, and four cases involving Burma.
It also quoted Sri Lankan ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka as saying during the January special session on Gaza,
"If the council does not stand up for innocent people, then what does it stand for, and why does it exist?
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