India hands over relief material to ICRCNovember 20th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by IANS
Colombo, Nov 20 (IANS) India’s envoy to Sri Lanka Thursday formally handed over to the international Red Cross New Delhi’s first lot of relief material for civilians displaced by war in the island’s north.Calling it “a simple but solemn occasion”, High Commissioner Alok Prasad handed over the gift certificate to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) head in Sri Lanka, Paul Castella.
Prasad said it was for distribution to the war-hit population and expressed the hope that the assistance “would help meet the humanitarian needs of the affected people”.
“This (Indian) consignment consists of food, clothing and personnel hygiene items, which have been packed individually into 80,000 family packs for easy distribution and to ensure that the assistance reaches directly to the intended recipients,” Prasad said.
He also thanked the Sri Lankan government for facilitating the arrival and despatch of the relief items and the ICRC for undertaking the distribution in keeping with their humanitarian role.
Nearly 1,680 tonnes of relief materials, shipped into Colombo in 100 containers, are now housed in the ICRC warehouse on Colombo’s outskirts and ready for transportation to the north of Sri Lanka.
Thousands of civilians, almost wholly Tamils, have been displaced in Sri Lanka’s war because of escalating fighting between the military and the Tamil Tigers.
The consignment came as a follow up to a visit to New Delhi last month by Colombo’s special envoy Basil Rajapaksa when both sides decided that India would take part in providing humanitarian relief aid.
“I am happy to note that this substantial consignment has arrived in Colombo within three weeks of the two countries taking that decision. It is a combined effort of the government of India and donations received from the people of Tamil Nadu,” the Indian envoy said.
Claiming that it “is a gesture of goodwill and is intended to bring some relief to the civilians in the conflict areas”, Prasad said that India “is committed to providing humanitarian assistance”.
“We will evaluate the situation and what the needs and requirement are and we may bring additional consignments as required,” he said.