U.N. failed to protect civilians during the war: says report


A new report states that the United Nations failed in its mandate to protect Sri Lankan civilians caught up in the final phase of the war.

In the report it states that the UN has failed to diagnose the nature of the problem at the early stages and were incapable of designing a coordinated strategy to separate the civilians from the LTTE and enable them to move into the government controlled areas.

The report - by the Marga Institute and the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies - contradicts earlier reports by the U.N. and human rights groups which puts the blame for civilian deaths largely on government forces.

Instead, it holds the LTTE primarily responsible due to its strategy of holding civilians captive and using them as shields.

The report said the U.N. lacked a strategic approach to minimising the death toll. It said the U.N. should have encouraged civilians who were fleeing with the rebels to cross over to government controlled area, adding that this would have avoided people being used as human shields.

It attributed some of the failures to staff on the ground which it said had little or no expertise in analysing military operations in terms of their humanitarian risks or in protecting civilians.

The report also said the U.N.'s complex bureaucracy and decision-making processes prevented vital information from being channelled to senior officials with expertise.