Sri Lanka bans 'Tamil version' of national anthem
A Tamil Eelam flag is seen as Tamils demonstrate against the political turmoil in Sri Lanka. (FILE) REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The United Nations failed to protect the civilians in the last months of the civil war in Sri Lanka which ended in May in 2009, says a leaked draft report of an internal review which looked into how the global body handled the situation.

The review panel, led by former U.N. official Charles Petrie, said in its draft report that the events in Sri Lanka marked “a grave failure of the U.N.,” the BBC News quoted the draft as saying.

The report criticized “a sustained and institutionalized reluctance” by the U.N. staff in Sri Lanka “to stand up for the rights of the people they were mandated to assist.”

“Many senior U.N. staff simply did not perceive the prevention of killing of civilians as their responsibility,” says the executive summary of the report, according to the BBC News.

The report criticized the senior U.N. officials in New York since they had chosen “not to speak up” about the violations of international law by the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Both the government and the LTTE were accused of war crimes.

The executive summary was removed from the panel’s final report, which would be released soon, the BBC reported sources as saying.

An estimated 100,000 people were killed in the civil war in Sri Lanka which began in July 1983 and ended in May 2009.

According to the U.N., 7,000 civilians had been killed and another 16,700 had been wounded in the last five months of the civil war. However, unconfirmed reports say the number of the civilian deaths could go beyond 40,000.