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UN bans Sri Lankan peacekeepers

The United Nations announced that it will ban all “non-essential” Sri Lankan troops deployed on peacekeeping missions, in response to the appointment of accused war criminal Shavendra Silva as head of the country’s military.

Foreign Policy quoted Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, as confirming the latest development in an update this morning.

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

“We have expressed our concern 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,” he added. “In light of this appointment, the U.N. Department of Peace Operations is therefore suspending future Sri Lankan Army deployments except where suspension would expose U.N. operations to serious operational risk.”

See more from Foreign Policy here.

Silva’s appointment as head of Sri Lanka's military sparked international condemnation earlier this year.

He was the head of Sri Lanka's 58 Division, an army unit which has been accused of mass atrocities and violations of international law during the 2009 military offensive that saw the killing of tens of thousands of Tamils.

The 58 Division has been accused of repeatedly bombing hospitals, widespread sexual violence, torture and the execution of surrendering Tamils.

Read more on Silva in our feature here: Shavendra Silva - ‘the most wanted man in Sri Lanka’