The Sri Lankan government has ordered a senior United Nations diplomat to leave the country after accusing him of partiality towards the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
James Elder, an Australian national, was appointed spokesperson for the United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) in July last year. He appeared regularly on television and radio news, as well as in print media, discussing the plight of children caught up in Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war.
Sri Lankan government forces launched a massive offensive at the beginning of the year that finally culminated in the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels at the end of May. The international community had repeatedly expressed its concern about the fate of civilians caught up in the fighting and Mr Elder spoke of the “unimaginable hell” that children caught up in the fighting were experiencing in the last stages of the war. He also frequently drew attention to the fact that Colombo refused to allow aid agencies or journalists access to the conflict zone.
According to the Sri Lankan government, “Mr Elder was doing propaganda in support of the LTTE”.