Holmes u-turns minutes after TNA meeting

[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 February 2009, 11:41 GMT]
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentary group leader R. Sampanthan has told the visiting UN Under Secretary General of Humanitarian Affairs, Sir John Holmes, that there is an urgent need for the international community to act decisively to stop the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the Vanni. However, in the press conference he gave minutes afterwards, Sir Holmes lauded the Sri Lankan government’s conduct vis-à-vis the humanitarian situation and said there was “good cooperation” between UN agencies and the Mahinda Rajapakse regime.

Mr. Sampanthan was part of a three member delegation that met with Sir Holmes at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo on Saturday.

The delegation had also informed Mr.Holmes that the civilians moving into government areas were being held not in welfare centres but detention camps with no access to humanitarian workers, the media or civil administrators.

The parliamentarians had also cited the report put out by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Saturday in which the grave situation in the Vanni was highlighted.

Mr.Holmes reportedly said he had the same concerns raised by the TNA delegation after his visit to welfare centres as well as meeting with various people in the country and that the UN would do its best to change the situation.

However, in the press conference he gave minutes afterwards, Sir Holmes lauded the Sri Lankan government’s conduct vis-à-vis the humanitarian situation and said there was “good cooperation” between UN agencies and the Mahinda Rajapakse regime.

Meanwhile, TNA MP Maavai Senathirajah, speaking to reporters in Colombo questioned Sir Holmes’ faith in the Rajapasksa government.

“How can anyone ask us to place trust on Sri Lankan government that it would resettle people in their own homes after a brief stay in Vavunyaa camps? Even those who have been uprooted from their own houses and villages in Jaffna for more than 18 years, even after Supreme Court order, not allowed by the military to be resettled,” the MP said.


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