Sri Lanka minister calls UN official ‘terrorist’

Aug 15, 2007 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan minister Wednesday described a top UN official as a “terrorist” after accusing him of supporting the country’s separatist Tamil Tiger guerrillas. Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle said John Holmes, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, who ended a four-day tour of Sri Lanka last week, was helping the Tiger rebels.

The minister took exception to remarks by Holmes that Sri Lanka was one of the most dangerous places on Earth for aid workers, after reports that more than 30 charity employees had been killed since early 2006.

“Holmes is completely a terrorist,” he told reporters. The minister’s controversial remarks in the past have been disowned by the government, which said he did not reflect official policy.

There was no immediate reaction either from the Colombo government or the United Nations here.

During meetings with government officials, Holmes urged Colombo to give free access to charities to operate in the east, where more than 100,000 people have been displaced following an upsurge in violence over the past 19 months. More than 60,000 people have died since the Tigers launched a separatist campaign