UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has misled the media and the public by giving the impression that the UNDP Regional Center situated in Sri Lanka had been closed as a result of the protest being carried out by Minister Wimal Weerawansa outside the UN country office in Colombo.
When contacted by Daily Mirror online today, a UN Colombo official clarified that preparations were underway for several months now to close down the UNDP Regional Center in Sri Lanka and it was not linked with Weerawansa’s protest.
However in a misleading short statement released by the Secretary General at the UN Headquarters in New York yesterday, Ban Ki Moon had said he had decided to close down the UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo and was recalling the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Neil Buhne to New York for consultations.
However the UN Chief had failed to mention that the closing down of the UNDP Regional office had no connection what so ever to Weerawansa’s protest resulting in major news organizations and international wire services reporting that the UNDP office had been closed as a result of the tensions outside the UN Country office in Colombo.
When asked to clarify the connection between the UNDP Regional Center being closed, Neil Buhne being recalled and Weerawansa’s protest, a UN Colombo official said that all UN offices were continuing to function as normal and the shutting down of the UNDP Regional office had nothing to do with the ongoing issue outside the UN Country office in Colombo.
“To my knowledge it (closing the UNDP Regional Center) has nothing to do with this current issue because it has been on the cards for several months. It is not a new move. This UNDP Regional Center was located earlier in Kathmandu but because of the worsening security situation their during that time, the decision was taken to shift the Center to Colombo somewhere in 2006 or 2007. However within the last year a decision was taken, taking into consideration some administrative and financial concerns to downsize the regional center and to shift the main functions to the Bangkok office. This is not a new move as it has been on the card for several months,” a UN Colombo official explained.
The UN Secretary General by releasing a single statement regarding the UNDP office, Weerawansa’s protest and recalling Neil Buhne for consultations seems to have attempted to give the impression that he was giving a firm response not just by word but by action to show his anger towards the government’s failure to prevent the heated protests outside the UN Country Office in Colombo. (Daily Mirror online)
Ban Ki Moon’s statement released yesterday is as follows.
The Secretary-General finds it unacceptable that the Sri Lankan authorities have failed to prevent the disruption of the normal functioning of the United Nations offices in Colombo as a result of unruly protests organized and led by a cabinet minister of the Government.
In light of the evolving situation, he is recalling the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Neil Buhne, to New York for consultations. He has also decided that the UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo will be closed.
The Secretary-General calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to live up to its responsibilities towards the United Nations as host country, so as to ensure continuation of the vital work of the Organization to assist the people of Sri Lanka without any further hindrance.