UN to send back Sri Lankan peacekeepers

The United Nations is to repatriate Sri Lankan peacekeepers after a decision was taken to suspend future Sri Lankan Army deployments, a UN spokesman told the Colombo Gazette.

The ban was imposed as a result of President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to appoint Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva to the position of Commander of the Sri Lanka Army.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said that Sri Lanka currently provides uniformed military personnel to six UN peacekeeping operations.

“We are grateful for these contributions to UN peace operations, particularly in some of the UN’s most complex missions,” he said.

He said that in light of the UN’s commitment to the highest human rights standards for all personnel deployed on UN peace operations, the UN had expressed concerns to the Government of Sri Lanka over the appointment of Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva to the position of Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, despite well-documented, credible allegations of his involvement in serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

In light of this appointment, the UN Department of Peace Operations is therefore suspending future Sri Lankan Army deployments except where suspension would expose UN operations to serious operational risk.

A Sri Lankan Army unit and individual officers currently serving with UN Peacekeeping will thus be repatriated, beginning next month, in accordance with their rotation dates and will not be replaced by Sri Lankan personnel.

The UN spokesman said that the decision was communicated to the Sri Lankan Permanent Representative by the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations on 12 September, and technical discussions between the Department of Peace Operations and the Sri Lankan Permanent Mission have begun on operationalizing the decision.

However, the Army says it has not been formally informed of this move. (Colombo Gazette)

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