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Statement of Sri Lanka under item 14 (e) of the General Segment of ECOSOC on 25 July 2007, Geneva

Sri Lankan delegation expressed its serious concern with regard to the recent trend of equating and clustering of countries and putting them in different baskets as a means of expressing the nature of different humanitarian situations in the world on 25th July 2007 under the item 14 (e) of the General Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) being held in Geneva.

Here is the full text of the Statement.

Statement of Sri Lanka under item 14 (e) of the General Segment of ECOSOC
25 July 2007, Geneva
Mr. President,

My delegation takes the floor in response to the statement made today by the Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees under item 14 (e) of the General Segment of this Council.

In her remarks, we see that Sri Lanka has been put in a basket of several countries in connection with different humanitarian situations. Mr. President, this is not the first time this happened in this Council session. Earlier, during the Humanitarian Segment, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. John Holms placed Sri Lanka as the second in a group of four countries, who are facing completely different humanitarian situations under different circumstances.

In this regard, firstly, my delegation would like to express our serious concern with regard to this recent trend of equating and clustering of countries and putting them in different baskets as a means of expressing the nature of different humanitarian situations in the world. Secondly, such an approach will not be helpful in carrying-out Inter-Agency and partnership approach that we have chosen in Sri Lanka and which is well-known to UNHCR as a very important member of the two high level policy making bodies namely, IDP Coordinating Committee and the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance. Full awareness of local conditions is made available at these policy-making fora and the prevailing ground situation is amply discussed with all humanitarian partners, including the UNHCR.

The well-structured public service of Sri Lanka, which has been functioning under difficult circumstance due to terrorist acts in the areas dominated by the terrorists as well as in the areas cleared by the security forces from these terrorists, play a vital role, and in fact, the primary role in coordinating and providing humanitarian assistance. At ground level, UNHCR officials do work with these well-established government institutions, thus providing them the required awareness on the ground reality to effectively carry-out their work. The humanitarian partners of the Government of Sri Lanka include not only the UN and other humanitarian organisations, but also NGOs, who have been provided with required access to carry-out their work even under difficult circumstances. Of course, the legitimate authorities cannot be unmindful of security dimension in the granting and regulating such access, if only as transitional nature.

For the last one year, the High Commissioner for Refugees has met with the President of Sri Lanka twice, first in Sri Lanka and then very recently in Geneva and has discussed all aspects with regard to the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka and the provision of protection and assistance to those affected by the conflict. Therefore, we would like to request the UNHCR and other humanitarian partners to pay due respect and acknowledgement to the above-mentioned well-established structures and practices of Sri Lanka, which is a vibrant democracy and not a failing State. We further request our humanitarian partners to do away with the practice of equating our situation with other contexts, with which ours is nowhere comparable.

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