Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva
By Shanika Sriyananda
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) said yesterday that the UN Peacekeeping Department (UNPD) has not yet informed them about their decision to ban the deployment of SLA troops in UN Peacekeeping missions in the future.
It was reported that the UNPD had taken said decision as a result of Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva’s appointment as the new SLA Commander despite alleged war crime charges.
Military Spokesman Maj. Gen. Sumith Atapattu confirmed that no UN authority has been informed about the UN’s decision to stop deploying Sri Lankan Peacekeepers in UN missions so far.
“At the moment, a contingent of 400 Sri Lankan Peacekeepers, including officers and soldiers, are serving in UN Peacekeeping missions in different countries, including Mali and Lebanon,” he told the Daily FT.
He said the next contingent of UN Peacekeepers was undergoing training at the moment and was getting ready for the next deployment.
According to Maj. Gen Atapattu, over 18,000 Sri Lankan Peacekeepers have been served in UN Peacekeeping missions, three of whom lost their lives and two who were injured.
“The highly-trained and well-disciplined SLA soldiers and officers have performed well in peacekeeping missions so far and the UN has also commended the services rendered by them to bring world peace,” he said.
However, UN’s Deputy Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres Farhan Haq has also commended the services by the SLA Peacekeepers stating that, “the UN is ‘grateful for Sri Lanka’s contribution of troops to six UN peacekeeping operations, but is troubled by Silva’s promotion.”
Meanwhile, when asked whether the UN had informed about the repatriation from next month of an SLA unit and officers now serving in UN Peacekeeping, Atapattu said the UNPD or any UN top authority had not informed the SLA about sending any of them back home.