Deteriorating Situation in Sri Lanka

Walter Kälin
Walter Kälin Former Brookings Expert

January 4, 2008

Walter Kälin discusses his recent mission to Sri Lanka and the displacement situation in the country with U.N. Radio.

U.N. RADIO: I noticed that you sort of identified one or two major reasons, or predominant concerns among the IDPs. The chief of which seems to be physical security.

WALTER KÄLIN: Exactly. Wherever I went internally displaced persons seem very very insecure for very good reasons. Whereever I went, women have been killed, have been abducted, disappeared, or have been detained a long time without prospects of being released. It’s these kinds of human rights violations, and they are committed from all sides, and I have to say they cause a lot of anxiety and insecurity among the internally displaced persons. I went to camps where people told me how during the night men coming to the camps very often being very violent, abducting people. There are in addition still ongoing acts of violence committed by the Tamil insurgents, bombs that are exploding. And then very heavy handed reactions by the security forces – people being rounded up, detained. And all of this really creates a pervasive sense of insecurity and fear.

U.N. RADIO: Now in your report you say that the government has begun to take some efforts including recruiting local and Tamil speaking civilian police. To what extent has that helped the situation?

WALTER KÄLIN: These confidence building measures have really just started. The government, in cooperation with the international community, in particular with UNHCR, has developed what I consider to be, quite a good plan at confidence building measures. But they are just being implemented now; it’s too early to see a real impact. Nevertheless, that’s the only way ahead to rebuild confidence, to win the hearts and minds of these people and not to treat them as suspects because they had been under Tamil control for quite a long time.

Listen to the full interview >>

U.N. Radio Website