Top UN official expelled from Sri Lanka

The Government of Sri Lanka has ordered a senior United Nation’s official to leave Sri Lanka within two weeks. James Elder, a senior official with the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), held a visa until July next year to serve in Sri Lanka. 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.

At the UNICEF headquarters in New York, senior officials expressed displeasure over the move. They are to raise the issue with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, according to reports reaching Colombo.

About James Elder

James Elder is Chief of Media & External Relations for UNICEF in Sri Lanka. He has an MA degree in Media and Communications. He has been active in media, publishing and information for more than 15 years, first as a journalist in his native Australia, then as an editor.

Before joining UNICEF (in 2002) he wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, a string of publications abroad, and freelanced for the country’s biggest-selling lifestyle magazines. During his time freelancing, he rode bulls, formula one cars, boxed a round with the world lightweight champion (he still has all his original teeth), and interviewed people from David Beckham to Richard Branson and the Dalai Lama. He then spent six months in India with his TV producer wife, filming and presenting documentaries for Cable TV.

He started his career with UNICEF in Angola, arriving six months after a three-decade war ended. There he presided over a strategy to project post-war Angola into the public and donor domain and was a co-author of the country’s ‘Multiple Cluster Survey’ and a fundraising book of human stories from Angola.

He has done emergency stints in Darfur, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Mozambique. He is married with three children.