Irish aid for UN rights office urged

 

The Government was yesterday urged to provide financial support for the UN human rights office in Colombia by the head of Trocaire's overseas department, Mr Eamonn Meehan.

"Starved of resources, the UN office has a shortfall of $2 million - 60 per cent of its required funding," he said.

Mr Meehan was speaking at a vigil outside the US embassy in Dublin for Father Brendan Forde to highlight the danger faced by his community in north-west Colombia. Father Forde's life has been threatened by armed militias. Mr Meehan said the Government should steer clear of the US-backed "Plan Colombia" package, adding that it was aimed at wiping out coca production in Colombia.

"From past experience, we already know it will be a failure. We will only see the `balloon effect' at work again. While Colombian coca producers will be squeezed, the production will not disappear but simply move elsewhere.

"The development side to this package has poorly thought-out proposals to try to wean peasants away from cocoa production. Other attempts at crop substitution have failed and, certainly, these proposals will not succeed in a conflict environment."

The co-ordinator of AFrI, Mr Joe Murray, said "Plan Colombia" would not halt the supply of drugs. Production would simply shift away from one area to another.