Indian ship with relief supply arrives in Colombo (Lead)

November 16th, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Nov 16 (IANS) An Indian ship carrying 1,700 tonnes of relief assistance for war-affected Tamil civilians in the island-nation’s north arrived in the Colombo harbour, Indian diplomats said here Sunday. The relief material will be distributed primarily through the International Red Cross with the concurrence of the Sri Lankan government.

According the Indian diplomats, the Indian Shipping Corporation ship Contijork, carrying the first consignment of relief assistance, arrived in the Colombo harbour late Saturday.

An Indian official said: “1,700 tonnes of relief assistance has come in 100 containers and the unloading of the aid cargo will commence Monday.”

On the invitation of the Indian government, an ICRC top official undertook a visit to Tamil Nadu last week to gather relevant information about the proposed relief donation such as “the quality, composition, packaging and so on”.

The ICRC here said that the Indian relief donation from Tamil Nadu was suitable to the needy people in the northern war-zone and “was good in quality corresponding to the international standards”.

The agreement to send Indian food and relief material to the war-displaced people in the north was reached Oct 26 during the Sri Lankan president’s advisor Basil Rajapaksa’s discussions with India’s external affairs minister, national security advisor and foreign secretary during his New Delhi visit.

A joint statement issued at the end of Basil Rajapaksa’s visit stated that India had decided “to send around 800 tonnes of relief material to Sri Lanka for the affected civilians in the north as a gesture of goodwill”.

“The government of Sri Lanka will facilitate the delivery. Both sides agreed to consult and cooperate with each other in addressing these humanitarian issues,” the joint statement said.

Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Alok Prasad late October attended a meeting held by Basil Rajapaksa and discussed the modalities for sending the relief supply to the war-displaced people.

According to the UN, about 230,000 people have been internally displaced due to the escalation of clashes between the troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north.

The World Food Programme (WFP) in concurrence with the government has transported food stocks on four occasions to Wanni last month, in addition to the government’s routine supply.

The Indian ship with the relief suplies has come at a time when the advancing troops Saturday dealt a major blow to the LTTE by capturing Pooneryn, the last major naval bastion of the rebels on the western coast.

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