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Australian aid worker kicked out of Sri Lanka -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Sri Lankan Government has ordered an Australian United Nations employee out of
the country. The Government says that UNICEF spokesman James Elder has been spreading propaganda on
behalf of Tamil Tiger rebels.

But UNICEF says it stands by Mr Elder and other human rights organisations say this is part of a
broader crackdown by the Sri Lankan Government on its critics.

South Asia correspondent Sally Sara has our report.

SALLY SARA: UNICEF's spokesman in Sri Lanka is getting ready to pack his bags. The Sri Lankan
Government has cancelled James Elder's visa and given him two weeks to leave.

Mr Elder arrived in the country in July last year and has made regular appearances on local and
international media outlets, talking about the humanitarian situation in the north of the country.
He was an outspoken voice during the final days of the war in May, when civilians were trapped on
the battlefield on the Sri Lankan coast.

JAMES ELDER: It has been an unimaginable hell. There couldn't have been a worse place on the planet
to be than that very small stretch of beach over the last weeks. Hundreds of children have been
killed. Many, many more are suffering severe malnutrition.

SALLY SARA: The Sri Lankan Government says James Elders comments were not based on fact, not
researched and were Tamil Tiger propaganda.

But, UNICEF has given its 100 per cent support to Mr Elder and backed his statements. UNICEF's
regional spokeswoman, Sarah Crowe says James Elder has always spoken accurately about the plight of
children and other civilians caught up in the war.

SARAH CROWE: We absolutely stand by everything that has been said throughout this year, throughout
the conflict, throughout the very difficult times when children were stuck in this sort of
relentless bombing that happened through the last days and weeks of the Sri Lankan conflict.

And our mandate is to speak out on behalf of those who do not have a voice. That is what James was
doing. That is what anybody else in his position, who will take his, who will replace James would
do and we will continue to do that, continue to uphold our voice on behalf of those who do not have

SALLY SARA: The Sri Lankan Government has accused the UN and other groups of exaggerating the
number of civilian casualties. Four Sri Lankan doctors who gave casualty figures from the front
line were arrested and are still facing court. A local newspaper editor who was critical of the
Government was killed by unknown attackers and several other local journalists were assaulted. The
bureau chief of the Associated Press in Sri Lanka, Ravi Nessman also had his visa renewal declined
in July.

Press freedom and human rights groups have accused the Sri Lankan Government of shutting down
freedom of speech. But, after its resounding victory against the Tamil Tigers and in the absence of
any strong regional criticism, the Sri Lankan Government is holding its line.

This is Sally Sara reporting for The World Today.