Sri Lanka minister says charity staff left-behind in Tiger held areas not recognized

Sept 29, 2008 (LBO) – Staff members left behind in Tiger-controlled areas by charities after a deadline expires today will not be recognized as workers from the respective non-governmental organizations, a Sri Lankan minister said.

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The government has ordered NGOs to close their offices in the northern Tiger stronghold of Kilinochchi and leave the area by today as troops moved closer to the town amid fierce fighting.

Minister of disaster management and human rights Mahinda Samarasinghe said that while foreign NGO staff had come to Vavuniya, a government-held town further south, some local staff had remained behind in Kilinochchi.

Some of these staff members were forced to stay back because of pressure from the Tamil Tigers but the government will no longer recognise them as NGO workers, Samarasinghe told our sister news website Vimasuma.com.

Samarasinghe said he plans to have a special meeting with those NGOs who left Kilinochchi soon to get a report on staff and assets they brought back.

The government has said some NGOs had allowed the Tigers to seize some of their equipment, such as earth