The government of Sri Lanka has ordered the expulsion of a UNICEF spokesperson. UNICEF Director Ann Veneman and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon have objected to the decision. But authorities in Columbo apparently stand by their decision to expel the Australian James Elder, chief of communications for UNICEF’s operations in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan authorities have not stated what offense Elder committed. Chances are, however, that it has something to do with UNICEF speaking out on behalf of children affected by a brutal counter-insurgency against the Tamil Tigers. To date, over 200,000 ethnic Tamils are being forced to live in military run internment camps, largely off limits to the press and international humanitarian community.
Expelling a UNICEF spokesperson is not exactly the behavior of a responsible government. Sri Lanka is well on its way to becoming an international pariah state, on par with the governments of Eritrea, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, and Burma.