Responding to questions about the role of United Nations in the ongoing refugee crisis in Kachin and northern Shan states, the UN has reiterated that its Burma Envoy Vijay Nambiar has in fact been advocating for the UN and its affiliated agencies to get access to vulnerable people displaced by the armed conflict between Burmese government forces and the Kachin Independence Organization.
In an email statement sent to the Kachin News Group, Martin Nesirky chief spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that Mr. Nambiar "has consistently raised with the Myanmar authorities the issue of adequate UN humanitarian access to areas in need and to vulnerable populations in border and conflict areas, including during his latest visit to Myanmar in early November. He will continue to stress to the authorities the importance of such access, in support of and in consultation with relevant UN offices."
Despite assurances from the UN that it is pushing for access to refugees trapped on the China-Burma border, doubts remain as to whether the UN and its related agencies will ever get access to these people.
Reached for comment, Moon Nay Li of Kachin Women's Association of Thailand says her organization wants to see the UN do more. "The UN and Mr. Nambiar must push harder to get access, there is a massive crisis happening on the China border that can't be ignored," she said.
KWAT along with groups concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis on the China Burma border are worried that the Kachin situation is being ignored because of other recent positive developments in Burma.
According to Moon Nay Li "the UN and the international community shouldn't just take the Burmese government's word about the refugee situation along the border, they need to go there and see what is going on. The Special Envoy Mr. Nambiar must speak out about what is happening to the Kachin refugees."
Nambiar's role in Sri Lanka during end of civil war still controversial, named in ICC complaint
Nambiar who also serves as Ban Ki-Moon's chief of staff has recently been the subject of harsh criticism from human rights groups concerned about his conduct as a senior UN representative during the finals days of the Sri Lankan government's offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the spring of 2009.
Ban, sent Nambiar a former senior Indian diplomat to Sri Lanka despite the fact that Nambiar's own brother, retired Indian army general Satish Nambiar, had previously worked as a paid adviser to the Sri Lankan armed forces.
Marie Colvin, a reporter with The Times of London, has written that on Monday, May 18, 2009, at 5:30 a.m. she called Nambiar at his hotel in Colombo to personally convey a message she had received from two senior members of the LTTE leadership that they were ready surrender to the army. According to Colvin the leaders she spoke with were hiding in a bunker and wanted “Nambiar to be present to guarantee the Tigers’ safety”.
Nambiar informed Colvin that the Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa had told him that those who wanted to give up would be safe if they were to “hoist a white flag high”.
Colvin claims that when she asked Nambiar to go himself to witness the surrender he refused saying that it wouldn't “be necessary” and that “the president’s assurances were enough”.
Only a few hours after Nambiar's conversation with Colvin, the dead bodies of dozens of members of the LTTE leadership including the two men who had previously told Colvin they were ready to give up, were shown to the Sri Lankan media. Footage was later released showing several of these man being captured alive, suggesting they had been summarily executed.
General Sarath Fonseka, head of the Sri Lankan military at the time, told an opposition newspaper in December 2009 that the president's brother Gothabaya Rajapaksa who serves as Defence secretary and another brother Basil who served as Presidential advisor had “given orders not to accommodate any LTTE leaders attempting surrender and that ‘they must all be killed”.
Following the revelations made by Colvin and Fonseka about the failed surrender attempt, two human rights groups the Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils and the US based Tamil’s Against Genocide filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court accusing the Rajapaksa government of war crimes. The joint complaint specifically cites Nambiar and questions “whether VIJAY NAMBIAR was in fact an innocent neutral intermediary or in fact a co-perpetrator within the negotiation-related community."