UN reacts to Gotabhaya's accusations

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 12:37 GMT]
The United Nations on Wednesday strongly reacted to an interview given by Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, who had charged Tuesday that the UN agencies had been "infiltrated" and "misled" by the Tigers. Frederick Lyons, the resident and humanitarian coordinator in Sri Lanka, said he had "absolutely no grounds" to question the integrity of the UN staff in Sri Lanka. Such groundless accusations could seriously endanger the safety and security of UN staff in an environment in which a number of humanitarian workers have lost their lives over the past year, he said expressing deep concern regarding the accusations by Mr. Gotabhaya.

Full text of the letter follows:

Dear Editor:

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the groundless accusations made yesterday in the BBC/Reuters interview against our United Nations national staff. Such charges could seriously compromise their ability to carry-out their work and endanger their safety and security in an environment in which a number of humanitarian workers have lost their lives over the past year.

All UN staff are recruited under terms of employment in which they are responsible to the UN Secretary-General and to the principles of the United Nations. They are also honour-bound to work with complete neutrality and to receive no instruction from any third party.

During my brief stay in Sri Lanka, I have repeatedly seen our local staff tirelessly assisting Sri Lankan communities made vulnerable by conflict and disaster. I have the greatest confidence in their dedication to serving the UN’s objectives to protect and to help, and have absolutely no grounds to question their integrity.

Yours Sincerely,

Frederick Lyons
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka



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