Search

 

Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Humanitarian Access Committee Reviews

VZCZCXRO6672
OO RUEHBI RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLM #1106/01 2220511
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 100511Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6598
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0341
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7324
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 5437
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3960
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1257
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 4028
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3114
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 7916
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5565
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0356
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2252
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 001106

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS
STATE ALSO PASS TO USAID
AID/W PLEASE PASS TO USAID/OFDA, USAID/ANE, USAID/CMM
KATHMANDU FOR OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR WILLIAM BERGER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PHUM PGOV PREL CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: HUMANITARIAN ACCESS COMMITTEE REVIEWS
DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR THE EAST

REF: A. COLOMBO 1093

B. COLOMBO 509
C. COLOMBO 390 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: UN Under Secretary General for
Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, currently visiting Sri
Lanka, attended the 11th Consultative Committee on
Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA) meeting chaired by Minister of
Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe on
August 7. Charge attended for the U.S. Mission and raised
the issue of timely access for NGOs to recently resettled
areas. He requested a written reply to OFDA regional advisor
William Berger's letter asking for GSL assurances on this
issue. The Ministry of Nation Building presented the GSL's
Development Plan for the East. Presidential Advisor Basil
Rajapaksa provided assurances that the GSL would focus on
establishing effective civil administration before embarking
on long term development projects. EU and UN representatives
and Charge noted the importance of addressing security
issues, including reining in paramilitary groups, before
launching a development plan. The GSL announced the
appointment of Civil-Military Liaison officers to implement
CCHA policy decisions in the North and East. Relevant
agencies provided updates on logistical issues, including
supply shipments to Jaffna and the status of ICRC observation
of border checkpoints. The Government of Sri Lanka (GSL)
decided to expand checkpoint openings to 5 days per week.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Charge and PolOff attended the 11th CCHA meeting
chaired by Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights
Mahinda Samarasinghe on August 7. Secretary of Defense
Gothabaya Rajapaksa, Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, UN
agencies, ICRC and relevant Government agencies were present.
UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John
Holmes, currently visiting Sri Lanka, also attended.

Under Secretary General Holmes's Visit
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Holmes reported that his visit to Sri Lanka was
going well and promised to be productive. He commended
CCHA's efforts to facilitate coordination on humanitarian
issues. At a dinner on August 7, however, Holmes told Charge
that his trip to Jaffna was not useful as the GSL limited his
contacts there to military officials. He said the Government
had stalled on allowing his visit to Sri Lanka for quite some
time and noted that the GSL was sending him conflicting
messages. For example, he said Gothabaya and Basil were
accommodating in meetings, while the Foreign Minister and
Foreign Secretary were defensive of the GSL's record on human
rights and humanitarian issues.

New POCs on Humanitarian Issues
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) The GSL announced that Civil-Military Liaison
officers have been appointed for the LTTE-held Vanni, Jaffna
and East. Their mission will be to ensure that CCHA policy
decisions are implemented and to serve as POCs on all
humanitarian issues.

Supplies Trickling into Jaffna
-------------------------------

5. (SBU) The capacity to transport supplies to Jaffna is
gradually improving. A ship loaded with UN construction
material recently arrived in Jaffna. Committee members
agreed that this was a promising start, but noted that

COLOMBO 00001106 002 OF 003


shipments needed to continue on a regular basis. One
obstacle is the shipping company's demand for partial payment
in U.S. dollars rather than Sri Lankan rupees. A ship is
reportedly reserved and ready for further shipments once
payment arrangements can be worked out. Eight ships are
currently being used to transport food and other supplies to
Jaffna. This allows for a capacity of 17,000 tons, but there
is a need for a total capacity of 30,000 tons. Participants
noted that additional supplies would need to be stocked
before the monsoon season.

Border Checkpoint Hours Extended
---------------------------------

6. (SBU) ICRC reported that it is currently present at the
Omanthai and Uyilankulam checkpoints on Mondays, Wednesdays
and Fridays from 0900-1700. Given concerns about security,
ICRC is unwilling to resume a full time presence. They have
however, agreed to be present daily from August 8-17 to
facilitate travel for a religious festival in Madhu. Several
participants argued that the limited opening of the crossing
points was detrimental to traders and day laborers. ICRC
noted that it is not responsible for opening the checkpoints,
only for observing them. Gothabaya responded that the
checkpoints would now be open 5 days a week, and that the
ICRC could be present at its discretion.

7. (SBU) European Commission Head of Delegation Julian
Wilson noted that more contact with the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is needed on logistical issues. He
suggested that arrangements should be made to facilitate the
transfer of fuel into the Vanni, perhaps by allowing those
who transport it to document its use. He also argued that
medical supplies should not be categorized as sensitive items
or be subjected to restrictions.

NGO Harassment and Access to the East
---------------------------------------

8. (SBU) The Consortium for Humanitarian Agencies raised the
issue of plainclothes policemen visiting NGOs to request
information on employees. Basil explained that parliamentary
committees and embassies (sic) often request information on
NGOs and plainclothes officers are sent to conduct those
inquiries. He said any individual can refuse access to the
officers and can refuse to answer the officers' questions. He
encouraged NGOs to ask for ID from the officers and to call
their local police station if they have any questions or
concerns about the inquiries.

9. (SBU) Charge raised the issue of timely access for NGOs
to recently resettled areas. He requested a written reply to
OFDA regional advisor William Berger's letter on the same
topic and pointed out that international donors would likely
be prepared to provide additional funding if such assurances
can be provided in writing. Basil replied that the GSL must
know what NGOs are operating in the East and what they plan
to do. However, he said, once they sign an agreement with
the Government Agent they may have access. He also noted
that a list of 21 NGOs has been pre-approved. Neither he nor
Minister Samarasinghe directly addressed the issue of a
written reply to Berger's letter.

GSL Unveils Development Plan for the East
-----------------------------------------

10. (SBU) The Ministry of Nation Building presented the
GSL's Development Plan for the East. The generally
unimpressive presentation gave background information on the

COLOMBO 00001106 003 OF 003


Eastern Province and detailed an ambitious list of
infrastructure and other development projects that would
require extensive donor funding. Following the presentation,
Basil expanded on the GSL's approach to development of the
East. He said the first priority was security. Police
presence would be increased in civilian areas, allowing the
military to concentrate on areas of strategic importance. He
noted the need for more bilingual police officers and for
interpreters in police stations and government offices.
After security concerns are addressed, he said, development
will be approached in two phases. The first phase will be
establishing effective civil administration, including ID
cards, birth certificates, schools, and hospitals. This
effort will be managed by Minister of Public Administration
Karu Jayasuriya. The second phase will be long term
development, including livelihood projects and
infrastructure. Basil emphasized that great care would be
taken to resettle people in their original areas and not
introduce outsiders in these areas. He also stressed that
the high security zone planned for the Muttur area would not
displace any residents. (Note: according to other
information available to Embassy, ref A, there would, in
fact, be about five thousand families displaced.) Basil
ended the development discussion by thanking donors and aid
organizations for their funds and responsiveness and
promising to follow through on issues like NGO access.

11. (SBU) Wilson commented that the development presentation
should be made, possibly in more detail, to the donor
community at large and not just to the CCHA participants.
Charge underscored the importance of a concerted effort to
build institutions and strengthen governance in parallel with
efforts to rebuild infrastructure. EU and UN representatives
and Charge noted that paramilitary groups, like the Karuna
faction, must be dealt with before development can succeed.

12. (SBU) COMMENT: The CCHA continues to be a generally
effective forum for addressing and coordinating humanitarian
policy. The GSL's current development plan for the East is a
starting point but needs to be expanded beyond basic
infrastructure needs, however critical they may be. Post
will encourage the GSL to refine its development strategy,
while at the same time addressing the core issues of security
and establishment of effective civil administration.
MOORE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

New IPCC Report: ‘Unprecedented Changes’ Needed To Limit Global Warming

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes,” such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, says a special report that finds some of the actions needed are already under way, but the world must move faster… More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO:

Sulawesi Quake, Tsunami: Aid Response Begins

Oxfam and its local partners are standing by to deploy emergency staff and resources to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, as an estimated 1.5 million people are thought to be affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on Friday. More>>

ALSO:

Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC