|The hallucinations of international human rights organisations continue|
|Thursday, 27 November 2008|
Amnesty International released yet another one of its highly imaginative press statements on the humanitarian situation in this country last week. Without setting foot here, it latched onto a few unsubstantiated remarks by an ex-aid worker, did a little bad arithmetic with a random collection of very misleading figures and ended up in some ridiculous conclusions.
The Government is not by any means restricting the supply of food to the Vanni. On the contrary, officials have been working incredibly hard to ensure that the basic necessities get through and in plenty of time.
There are no food shortages. Amnesty International tried to make it look as though a disaster was imminent by quoting the World Food Programme saying that their last three weekly convoys carried 650 MT, 750 MT and 462 MT each, while the 230,000 individuals that Government Agents say are displaced would require 773 MT per week to meet the daily recommended calorie intake. But of course this was just sleight of hand. The United Nations isn't the only source of food in the Vanni. The Government is sending more convoys on average, and buffer stocks are now in place at stores in the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts.
Next came the question of making sure that food being sent up actually gets to whoever needs it. Amnesty International pretended that international aid workers haven't set foot in the Vanni since they were asked to relocate their offices in late September. Yet this isn't so either. World Food Programme staff always escort their convoys and check that the supplies are handed over to Government Agents. Other United Nations personnel have visited on assessment missions too, including the head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The Government knows perfectly well that a certain amount of food is being stolen by the LTTE. But the LTTE is also forcing Government Agents to inflate the number of displaced in order to ensure that this doesn’t affect supplies to ordinary people in the Vanni. The LTTE has made a number of attempts to disrupt food shipments to Jaffna, which is under Security Forces control, and has occasionally succeeded in making life difficult for the Government there. Vanni food supplies, on the other hand, haven't yet faced more than token efforts at interference, presumably because the LTTE needs to feed its own cadres and doesn't want a rebellion on its hands.
Amnesty International can't seriously believe that international aid workers could prevent these criminal acts from happening anyway. Forced recruitment went on at an impressive rate in the months before the agencies moved out of the Vanni, and the best foreigners could do was to prevent a few of their own staff from being taken away. International aid workers weren't even able to stop heavy machinery brought in for their rehabilitation and development projects being appropriated for use in building military defences.
Shelter materials do require proper authorisation. The Security Forces have discovered that large amounts of cement, metal roofing sheets and some other prefabricated materials generally used by international agencies are often being appropriated for the construction of bunkers, jungle encampments and so on. The LTTE simply cannot be prevented from doing this, especially as the Security Forces push its cadres back from already established positions. Amnesty International categorically dismisses efforts being made to find other ways of providing shelter for ordinary people that would be less subject to abuse, claiming that they just aren’t suitable. But wood, cadjan and other natural materials are commonly used throughout the country and have been for years.
Amnesty International once again blatantly exaggerates the scale of the problem when it refers to the figures of 2,100 temporary shelters put up by the middle of September, when they claim 20,000 families are in need of such accommodation. Additional material has gone in since. The International Committee of the Red Cross provided 750 temporary shelters in the Mullaitivu district in the month of October, for example. Amnesty International is quite wrong to give the impression that large numbers of people are camping under trees or in the open, because the displaced are being housed in schools where there are no other possibilities.
There have been no outbreaks of disease. Amnesty International stoked up fears of epidemics without the slightest evidence of any such danger. The Government Agents have been closely monitoring the situation. Rains have been underway for some time now, yet only a handful of very serious cases have been reported. Hospitals are functioning, even after being displaced. Medical supplies to last until the end of the year were sent last quarter and these are now being supplemented to ensure that stocks are in place so that any emergency can be dealt with promptly.
Amnesty International clearly demonstrates its lack of interest in the truth by randomly inflating the already inflated figures for the number of displaced people. Government Agents have said that there are 230,000 displaced in the Vanni, but the United Nations has recently cut this estimate down to 207,000. Amnesty International either isn't aware or doesn't care. It says there are more than 300,000 displaced people, and this amount is inflated again in the title referring to a third of a million. It is either pure imagination or an impressively big rounding error.
It is about time international human rights organisations stopped their political campaign against this government. Repeating inaccurate statements ad nauseam simply will not do. And these are not mistakes. Information to counter the accusations made is readily available, and from non-governmental sources at that; Amnesty International is deliberately misleading the international community for reasons known only to itself.
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 July 2009 )|
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