Gambia expels UNICEF envoy

February 16, 2010 12:00 am

, BANJUL,  Feb16 – Gambia has expelled UNICEF\’s envoy, the United Nations children\’s agency said on Monday in the west African country regularly criticised for human rights violations.

"UNICEF received a letter last week from the government stating that the country representative, Ms Min-Whee Kang, was no longer welcome in the Gambia," UNICEF\’s spokeswoman in Gambia told AFP.

Kang, who is South Korean, has left Gambia for "an unknown destination" after being given 24 hours to leave the country Friday, the spokeswoman added.

Gaelle Bausson at UNICEF\’s west African regional office in Dakar confirmed the expulsion.

No official comment was immediately available.

Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland, has been ruled by President Yahya Jammeh since he grabbed power in a bloodless coup in 1994.

In recent years it has come increasingly under fire over its poor human rights record.

Opponents and critics of Jammeh find themselves subjected to daily rights violations including torture and unlawful arrests, human rights organisations say.

The UNICEF envoy is the second UN official to be expelled from Gambia in the past three years.

The local head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) was forced to leave in February 2007 after voicing doubt over President Jammeh\’s claim to be able to cure AIDS, using a combination of mystical powers and herbs.

The UNDP official had warned that Jammeh risked undermining efforts to tackle the disease.

Jammeh, who has ruled the former British colony since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1994, has been repeatedly attacked by rights campaigners for his repressive attitude particularly towards the media.

He came under fire last year from press watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) after six journalists who criticised him were jailed.


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