Report: Sri Lankan war was grave failure for UN

NEW DELHI (AP) — A draft United Nations report obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday said inadequate efforts by the world body to protect civilians during the bloody final months of Sri Lanka's civil war marked a "grave failure" that led to suffering for hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The report accused U.N. staff in Colombo of not perceiving that preventing civilian deaths was their responsibility and accused their bosses at U.N. headquarters of not telling them otherwise.

It accused U.N. officials and member states of being reluctant to interfere and leaving the conflict in a "vacuum of inaction." It also said the political conditions after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. made countries less likely to stop a government fighting against a group — the Tamil Tiger rebels — that many had branded a terrorist organization.

"This report is a benchmark moment for the U.N. in the same way that Rwanda was," said Gordon Weiss, a former U.N. spokesman in Sri Lanka.

The draft report was compiled by a committee headed by former U.N. official Charles Petrie. It investigated U.N. actions as the quarter-century war between the government, dominated by the ethnic Sinhalese majority, and minority Tamil rebels ended in 2009 in a wave of violence. A separate U.N. report released last year said up to 40,000 Tamil civilians may have been killed in the war's final months.

The BBC first reported on the draft report Tuesday. A final version was reportedly being presented to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday and was expected to be quickly released.
Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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