Former UN diplomat urges global attention on Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 January 2009, 04:57 GMT]
Jan Egeland, the former UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, in a commentary article published in a leading newspaper in Norway on Saturday has called for world attention on forgotten conflicts where situation has deteriorated while the focal point of the world was centered on Gaza. "With catastrophic consequences to an already exhausted civilian population, the army of Sri Lanka has taken upon the guerrilla controlled areas," he writes.

Jan Egeland
Jan Egeland [Library Photo]
"In Gaza, as well as in Sri Lanka, the elected governments wish to crush the resistance movements – which have used abhorrent terror – but also enjoy peoples' support. In both the places, the government forces are engaged in widespread violations on peoples rights. In both the cases one attempts keep the international media and other witnesses away. And, there ends the comparison," writes Jan Egeland, who was also a former secretary general of the Norwegian Red Cross.

"Any rocket explosion in the sand of Israel or a building in Gaza becomes international news, while the entire townships that fall after heavy and bloody fighting in Sri Lanka don't get mentioned [in the news]."

Bringing also in other conflict examples such as the crisis of Congo, West Sahara, Somalia and Burma, Mr. Egeland, who is now director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), says that the hope of the Palestinians, Israelis, and the people of Middle East was that having huge media attention would finally lead to an effective pressure on the parties that cause misery for themselves and for their neighbours and argues that also the 'forgotten conflicts' call for global attention.


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