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And then they came for UN staff

The UN has recovered from a stupor and fired a paper missile at the LTTE. Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator of the UN in Colombo tells us that the LTTE is preventing people from fleeing to the government-controlled areas and 'a growing number of people trying to leave have been shot and sometimes killed'. We are also told that the LTTE is recruiting children as young as 14 years into its ranks.

The UN also seeks the release of its staff and 75 of their dependents including 40 children and 35 women, whom the LTTE is preventing from leaving the war zone, though 15 of those children have contracted respiratory diseases. In other words, the LTTE has taken the UN staff and their near and dear ones hostage. The UN must take part of the blame for this hostage drama.

After the resumption of hostilities in 2006, Prabhakaran had the UN compound in Kilinochchi stormed and the UN flag pulled down and desecrated. Then he abducted two UN workers who had tried to help a group of civilians leave the LTTE-held terrain. The UN Colombo Office kept the abductions under wraps and chose to act illegally by having talks with the LTTE to secure their release. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had been kept in the dark about the incident until we exposed it much to the embarrassment and consternation of the LTTE backers in the garb of UN workers in Colombo, who had even tried to arrange for a meeting between Annan and the LTTE in the Vanni on the pretext of helping tsunami victims.

The UN has always taken the LTTE's crimes for granted. UN Special Envoy Olara Ottunu prepared a well researched report on the LTTE’s child recruitment and the UN was compelled to place the outfit on the List of Shame becauseof its crimes against children. But, the Security Council skirted tough measures child rights activists called for in dealing with the child snatching terrorists. UNICEF even had a partnership with the LTTE in a bid to help child soldiers. Together they set up Transit Homes for those unfortunate children whom the LTTE promised to release in batches for rehabilitation. We pointed out in these columns at that time the LTTE was only taking UNICEF for a ride and trying to gain some international recognition. And the LTTE throttled the Transit Home project.

Now, how does the UN propose to liberate the men, women and children in the clutches of the LTTE including its staff and their dependents? In its recent statement on Sri Lanka, the UN only discusses the problem, which is too well known to merit elaboration, rather than ways and means of solving it. Prabhakaran will never let go of the hapless people in response to feeble appeals. Is the UN planning to go on grovelling before him without resorting to any other action to make him fall in line? A dying terrorist group has brought the UN to its knees! Where are the superpowers?

Eradicating terrorism forthwith is the only way to save civilians under Prabhakaran's jackboot. At least now, the UN should abandon its efforts to resuscitate the sinking Tigers and help Sri Lanka finish off the scourge of mindless terror once and for all.

Meanwhile, the captains of the Victim Industry (read INGOs in the business of humanitarian work) should thank Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who ordered them out of the Vanni a few moons ago. They made a big hue and cry about the Defence Ministry order, but if they had remained in that part of the country, they would have been in the same predicament as the UN staff and their families as well as other civilians Prabhakaran is holding at gunpoint as a human shield.

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