Threat to the NGOs
Thinakkural editorial, translation by Tamil Eelam News Service, August 30, 2006
In view of the tone of Samarasinghe's statement, there arises a doubt whether those attacking the NGOs are operating with the connivance of the government, or whether the government doesn’t want the NGOs to be present in the theatre of war, fearing they would expose the violations of human rights by the security forces.
Humanitarian problems in the North-East, consequent to the conflict between the government and the LTTE, demand a greater contribution by the non governmental organizations (NGOs).
But, unfortunately, these NGOs face threats. The Consortium Of Humanitarian Agencies has reported that more than 2,000 employees of non-governmental organizations have decided to leave the North-East areas fearing the situation could worsen.
Attacks on employees of NGOs have been increasing in the North-East in recent times.
The employees of Action Against Hunger, a French non-governmental organization were killed in May. Last Wednesday the office of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization in Jaffna was very badly damaged in an attack. A local employee of the UN Humanitarian Office in Thirukovil was shot dead. Last week a female employee of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society was killed outside her house in Vavuniya. There have been such threats and violence against many non -governmental organizations in the North-East.
Human Rights Watch has expressed great concern over the threats against the NGOs in the North-East. They say such threats can cripple the humanitarian assistance to the victims of violence in the North-East.
It is a matter of regret that it does not appear that the government has realized its great responsibility. Mahinda Samarasinghe, the Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister, is reported to have said that the employees of the NGOs should not expect the government to provide them security, although the government is grateful to them for their humanitarian services. He said it is up to them to decide whether to remain in the North-East or not, while assuring that, if any incidents of violence are reported, the government would conduct an impartial enquiry.
Attacks on the NGOs in areas controlled by the government have been reported. If the government says that it cannot guarantee the security of the employees in such areas, it would really mean that the government is abdicating its responsibility.
In view of the tone of Samarasinghe's statement, there arises a doubt whether the attackers of the NGOs are operating with the connivance of the government, or whether the government doesn’t want the NGOs to be present in the theatre of war, fearing they would expose the violations of human rights by the security forces.
Sewa Lanka planning official killed in Jaffna, along with his mother