Sri Lanka clamps down on Unicef

Nov 27, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government on Tuesday slapped restrictions on the United Nations children’s fund over allegations the organisation has been helping Tamil Tiger guerrillas. Seventeen Sri Lankan employees of the French charity Action Against Hunger were murdered near Trincomalee in August 2006. The island’s foreign minister told parliament that UNICEF supplies being brought into the country would no longer be granted the usual diplomatic immunity from customs checks.

The measure follows allegations, already denied by the world body, that UNICEF ration packs as well as bullet proof vehicles had fallen into the hands of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who control part of the north.

“Until the government probe is over, the green channel facility given to Unicef will be demoted to red with immediate effect,” Rohitha Bogallagama told parliament on Wednesday.

UNICEF has dismissed the allegations, widely carried by the Sinhalese press, as “unsupported.”

“It’s probably a temporary measure until the government’s investigations are over. We haven’t officially heard about it from the foreign ministry,” said the organisation’s spokesman in Colombo, Gordon