Sri Lanka: UNICEF unequivocally rejects any allegation of bias against James Elder

NEW YORK, 7 September 2009 – “UNICEF is extremely concerned and disappointed with the Sri Lankan Government’s decision to expel UNICEF’s chief of communications in Sri Lanka, James Elder.

“UNICEF has always upheld the principle of impartial advocacy and communication on behalf of children as a fundamental part of its global mandate.

“Through Mr. Elder, UNICEF has consistently spoken out against the suffering of children on both sides of the intense hostilities earlier this year and called for their protection. UNICEF unequivocally rejects any allegation of bias.

“UNICEF will continue to uphold its mandate in Sri Lanka, and elsewhere, to advocate and speak out on behalf of vulnerable children and women."

For further information, please contact:

Christopher de Bono, UNICEF New York, Tel + 1 212 303 7984; E-mail: cdebono@unicef.org

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York, Tel + 1 212 326 7426; E-mail: pmccormick@unicef.org


Sri Lanka's foreign secretary Palitha Kohona has told AFP that Elder's case is under review.

Palitha Kohona
"Mr. Elder was doing propaganda in support of the LTTE," Kohona told AFP on Sunday. "It was unacceptable. UN officials are meant to be impartial and the government took a very dim view of it."

"Towards the end of the conflict, he issued statements that were not researched, not exactly based on fact, but reflective of the LTTE."

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