Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The naivet‚ of the ICRC in Geneva

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights regrets a recent declaration made in Geneva by the International group of the Red Cross, which fails to note present ground realities in Sri Lanka. The declaration appeals 'to both sides' to allow and make easy the safe and voluntary movement of civilians out of the battle zone' and notes that 'Hundreds of patients need crisis treatment and mass departure to Vavuniya Hospital in the government-forbidden area.'
The declaration was issued on the very day that the LTTE refused way to ambulances which were to leave the LTTE forbidden area for the hospital in Vavuniya which has throughout the last a small number of years provided action to all patients sent there by the government doctors who sustained to man all hospitals in the LTTE forbidden area. The declaration was issued a few days after two UN agencies finally issued definite needs that the LTTE permit the civilians it has been detaining for so long to move into government forbidden areas.
The ICRC staff in Colombo is well aware that it is the LTTE that has banned the group of civilians, despite which, braving implementation by the LTTE, several thousands have now establish their way to government prohibited territory. The ICRC staff in Colombo are aware that the UN thought that it had glaringly negotiated consent to leave for members of staff and their dependents, only to find them stopped, so that two international staff too felt grateful to stay at the back for the security of these unlucky civilians. On the day the ICRC in Geneva issued its demarche, the LTTE refused consent for those two international staffers, along with the ambulances, to leave LTTE forbidden territory.
The ICRC staff in Colombo may not be aware that the LTTE have been dismissal from the area which the government had affirmed a safe zone. Initially the international community, which clearly never learned the theoretical skill of introduction, was not sure who had ablaze. The Bishop of Jaffna, as befitted his training, was sharper. In asking the government to make bigger the safe zone, he declared that he and his colleagues 'are straight away requesting the Tamil Tigers not to station themselves among the people in the safety zone and fire their weaponry-shells and rockets at the army. This will only add to more and more the death of civilians thus endangering the security of the people'.
Later that day the UN also realised the truth and asserted that 'we believe that dismissal this morning most probable was from an LTTE position.' The information that Geneva seems unaware to all this suggests either wilful lack of knowledge or naivete. It is true that the ICRC code of operation stress neutrality. impartiality however stress objectivity in analysis and reporting, not generalizations that portray the government in a unenthusiastic light.

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