French charity scales down Sri Lanka operations after massacre

Chandi Dharmaratne

Sept 6, 2006 (AFP) – A French charity announced Wednesday it was drastically scaling down its operations following allegations that government troops were responsible for the massacre of 17 of its employees. Action Against Hunger (Action contre la Faim or ACF) said it was reducing its number of staff by 60 to 70 percent and stopping its tsunami relief operations.

“We will not leave Sri Lanka,” ACF chief here Eric Fort said. But “we will decrease our activities as the humanitarian space becomes narrow and access is becoming complicated because of ongoing fighting and security concerns.”

Following the early August massacre of 17 local employees, the charity — which provided humanitarian relief in conflict zones and in areas hit by the December 2004 tsunami — suspended its activities.

Fort said the money they will spend in Sri Lanka will also be cut, but could not immediately say by how much.

He said the organisation believed that it had not been specifically targeted but decided to scale down their work because “the atmosphere in the country is not favourable to NGOs (non-governmental organisations).”

The charity’s decision came a week after independent Nordic truce monitors said Sri