expresses concern over UNICEF Country Representative’s visit to
[Tuesday, December 18, 2007 - 4.11 GMT]
Representative of the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF Philippe
Duamelle,) was summoned in to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday
(December 17) to express government's concern over his recent visit to
Kilinochchi and his meeting with LTTE leaders.
Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona emphasised that the UNICEF had not
followed the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for
diplomats and high ranking officials when visiting the uncleared areas
in the Northern Province. These guidelines issued to ensure the safety
and security of the visiting officials require them to obtain prior
clearance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Foreign Secretary
conveyed to the Country Representative of UNICEF that non-compliance
with these guidelines was unacceptable given the propensity of the LTTE
to exploit such visits for propaganda purposes.
Duamelle who assumed duties as the Country Representative of UNICEF in
Sri Lanka in September this year, stated that, unfortunately, he was not
familiar with the Foreign Ministry’s guidelines. But he said that he had
consulted the Ministry of Defence. He had visited Kilinochchi to assess
the effectiveness of ongoing programmes and meet with UNICEF staff. He
claimed he had met the LTTE to impress on them the urgent need to
release the child soldiers numbering 240 or more according to the
complaints received by UNICEF. He regretted the unfavourable publicity
that the visit had caused as his goal was to work with the Government of
In response to the allegation of UNICEF funds being transferred to the
Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation, UNICEF Country Representative stated
that although there is no evidence of illegal transactions, UNICEF is
presently carrying out a formal audit, the outcome of which will be
shared with the Government of Sri Lanka.
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Date: December 18, 2007 - 4.11 GMT