U.S. urged to sign cluster bomb ban treaty

The United States government needs to sign the new treaty banning cluster bombs and become part of the international consensus against this weapon. Banning Cluster Munitions, a new report released today by Cluster Munitions Coalition members, shows how the prohibition on cluster munitions is firmly taking hold as more countries join the new treaty banning the weapon and hold – out states shift their policies in the right direction.

The U.S. is not among the 96 nations that have signed the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was adopted on May 30, 2008, and opened for signature six months later. This treaty prohibits the use, production and transfer of cluster munitions, requires destruction of stockpiled weapons within eight years and clearance of contaminated land within ten years, and assistance to victims.

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Any Given Sunday

A group of former refugees who have returned to their homes in Lobone, South Sudan, share the Lord’s Prayer.

Priest who worked with JRS dies in Sri Lanka

One of the seven priests who remained with trapped Sri Lankan refugees through the end of the fighting between government forces and separatists rebels, died on the battle’s last day, and was buried Tuesday.

Father Mariampillai Sarathjeevan

Father Mariampillai Sarathjeevan

Father Mariampillai Sarathjeevan, 41, opted to stay with the people trapped in the “safe zone” until the May 18 end of the civil war between Sri Lanka’s military and the rebel Tamil Tigers, despite the danger as the conflict moved into the zone.

He died as the battle ended, struck by a heart attack as he left the war zone with the last refugees. Read the full story on the Zenit website here.

Fr. David Manuelpillai wrote this “tribute to the legacy of Rev. Fr. Mariampillai T. Sarathjeevan.”

The past few weeks have been catastrophic and have left the Tamil population of the island of Sri Lanka devastated. The lives of the Tamil people are filled with moments of abject suffering and destruction. Every day we have been hearing disturbing accounts of deaths and injuries. Church bells have been tolling incessantly bringing news of the death of beloved ones to the people. On the 18th of May, the bells of Jaffna Cathedral brought the news of the untimely death of the young and dynamic priest, Rev. Fr. Mariampillai T. Sarathjeevan, submerging the people of Jaffna in the sea of sorrow. Is he dead?

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Haitians in U.S. see glimmer of hope for TPS

The New York Times today has a story about Haitians in the United States who are “are hopeful about a proposal under consideration by the Obama administration that would provide relief for her and tens of thousands of other illegal Haitian immigrants.”

After four hurricanes and tropical storms in 2008 killed hundreds of people, wiped out most of Haiti’s food crops and caused nearly a billion dollars in damage, the country’s government asked the United States to grant undocumented Haitian immigrants what is known as temporary protected status. The designation would shield them from detention and deportation for a set period of time, and allow them to work legally, while Haiti tries to recover.

Read the full story here.

Poverty, chaos threaten Haiti, UN envoy warns

The National Post of Canada interviewed Michel Forst, a French lawyer appointed by the United Nations as an independent human rights investigator in Haiti, who says that it is time for the international community to refocus its foreign aid to improve economic opportunities there.

A member of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti patrols the streets of the capital city. (UN Photo/Marco Dormino)

A member of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti patrols the streets of the capital city. (UN Photo/Marco Dormino)

“Economic exclusion is a threat to political stability in Haiti,” said Mr. Forst.

“In order for human security to prevail, the people and communities of Haiti must not only be sheltered from violence, injustice and corruption, but also from hunger, disease and natural disasters.”
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Sri Lanka relief effort faces many hurdles

An internally displaced person receives medical treatment at a health clinic in the Manik Farm Camp in Vavunyia. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

An internally displaced person receives medical treatment at a health clinic in the Manik Farm Camp in Vavunyia. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

The United Nations humanitarian wing said yesterday that the overall scale of the relief operation in Sri Lanka, where nearly 300,000 people have been displaced by the recent conflict, remains “huge,” while an action plan for assistance still needs 60 percent of the requested funding.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also reported that since Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to the country this past weekend, an interim measure has been agreed whereby aid agency vehicles including trucks can now travel in and out of all Menik Farms zones, only not in convoy and without agency flags.

Menik Farm is among the largest camp sites hosting internally displaced persons (IDPs) resulting from the fighting between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Last week, the Government announced that its military operation against the Tamil separatists had ended.

OCHA also noted that it has been announced that the military will relocate out of the camps, turning over all camp management activities to civilian authorities.
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No Victory in Sri Lanka

In an editorial published today, the New York Times said they support the call by Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, for an international investigation into possible war crimes committed by both sides during the long war in Sri Lanka.

The Times says

Even after declaring victory in Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, the country’s leaders seem unable to distinguish between the enemy — the brutal but apparently vanquished Tamil Tiger separatists — and innocent bystanders. Despite appeals from Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, and from others, the government has not given international aid organizations full access to government-run camps, where an estimated 280,000 civilians are said to be in desperate need of food, water and medical care.

Read their editorial here.