Sri Lanka government on Sunday asked James Elder, Communications Chief with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in Colombo to leave the island nation within the next two weeks time.
Though there was no official explanation for the decision, sources in the Foreign Office said that the Government was concerned over repeated remarks Mr Elders had made to the media about Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in particular the conditions of children in camps.
Elder was not available for comment but UNICEF released a statement saying it was urgently "seeking clarity from the Sri Lankan authorities on the visa status" of its official.
He is the first UN official carrying a UN passport with diplomatic status to be asked to leave Sri Lanka.
Two week’s time has been given after he appealed from an order to leave immediately.
“This is not an expulsion but merely the standard procedure that is carried out by the immigration authorities,” the outgoing Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said without elaborating.
Immigration Chief PB Abeykoon, however, confirmed that he had been instructed by the government to cancel Mr Elder’s visa but gave no other details.
"His visa has been cancelled from September 7 and he was ordered to leave immediately. But the UN appealed for more time and we extended until September 21".