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Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 11:33 UK

UN criticises Sri Lanka expulsion

Ban Ki-Moon
[The UN] is working impartially to assist the people of Sri Lanka and the government should be supporting and co-operating with its efforts
Ban Ki-Moon

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, has criticised the Sri Lankan government's decision to expel a UN children's agency spokesman.

The government accused the spokesman of spreading Tamil Tiger propaganda.

Mr Ban's office said he strongly regretted the decision and would raise the issue with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the earliest opportunity.

The spokesman, James Elder, regularly updated the media on the plight of children caught up in the war.

The Tamil Tigers were defeated by the army earlier this year.

"The secretary-general strongly regrets the decision of the Sri Lankan government to expel Mr Elder," Ban's office said in a statement.

The UN chief "expresses his full confidence in the work of the United Nations in Sri Lanka, which includes making public statements when necessary in an effort to save lives and prevent grave humanitarian problems".

Mr Ban said that the UN was "working impartially to assist the people of Sri Lanka and the government should be supporting and co-operating with its efforts."

Mr Elder, communications chief for Unicef in Sri Lanka, was told on Sunday to leave the country within two weeks. He has worked in Sri Lanka since July 2008 and his residency visa was valid until 2010.



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