Sri Lanka gets tough on UN, aid visas

July 17, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday unveiled new restrictions on how long United Nations and other foreign aid staff are allowed to work on the war-torn island. The new regulations come amid a backdrop of mounting tensions between the government and the United Nations and key member states, who have been highly critical over how the war against Tamil Tiger rebels is being conducted.

Under the new Sri Lankan foreign ministry rules, foreign nationals will not be allowed to stay more than four years in a single place, while experts and advisers will only be allowed into the country for a year.

Previously rules regarding foreigners were flexible and allowed for people to stay in the country for long periods of time.

UN and other aid agencies will also not be allowed to create new positions without prior approval from Colombo.

The ministry said the rules where designed to “consolidate the linkages between the UN and other international organisations with ministries dealing with the relevant sectors of activities.”

Sri Lanka’s government, which pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire with Tamil Tigers in January, has seen its relationship