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Last modified on: 12/30/2010 11:37:30 PM Government Sends Food supplies to No fire zone via sea route

Government sends food supplies to no fire zone via sea route

Minister Mahinda Samarsingha at the Media Brieifng

Sri Lanka's government has decided to send food and medical supplies to the civilians held hostage by the LTTE terrorists in the Mullaittivu district today (Feb 17).

Commissioner of General for Essential Services, Mr. S. Divaratna speaking at the weekly media briefing about humanitarian situation in the Wanni, held at the Presidential Secretariat this evening, said that the tug with the first consignment of food items will leave Trincomalee harbour probably in the midnight.

He said that the decision has been arrived during a meeting held this morning on a proposal made by His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka to send food supplies to the IDPs in Mullaittivu via sea route.

Consequently, his office has requested the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to allocate two tugs that can carry 50 MT at time, to transport food items mainly and medical supplies to Mullaittivu from Trincomalee. In addition, MV Green Ocean, the passenger ferry allocated to the ICRC by the government will be utilized for sending 150 MT of food items on its each return trip from Trincomalee. The ICRC has been using the passenger ferry to transport sick and wounded civilians from Mullaittivu to the Trincomalee government hospital since last week. The ICRC has agreed to sail the tugs and the passenger ferry with the food consignment under its flag.

"We are sending nearly 50 MT of flour, dhal, milk food, and sugar plus medicine provided by the Ministry of Health with the first consignment ... the operations will be continued ... the second consignment is scheduled be sent on 19th this month", Mr Divaratna said.

He further went on to explain that the government has not been able to send food consignments to Mullaittivu since 29th January 2009 as the security situation did not permit safe passage to the food convoys. However he said that, he has so far received no reports on any acute food shortage in the Mullaittivu district from the Government Agents since the government had already sent about 600 MT tons of food in the last convoy.

"600 MT are sufficient for two weeks. Also, we have maintained a buffer stock there ...still we have to find an alternative route to provide food for the IDPs since the road transportation is impossible".

The Commissioner General emphasized that these food are sent by the government, by the government means and the process will be continued until the road access is made possible to the no fire zone.

Once the food supplies reach Mullaittivu, the government agents are to take over the consignment and to distribute it among the IDPs through cooperative societies.

Minster of Human Rights and Disaster Management, Hon Mahinda Samarasigha who was presiding the meeting added his comments saying that he is very grateful to the ICRC for the great service it renders to the Sri Lankan citizens. Further, he highlighted the silent role played by the government in the effort by providing the valuable resources including the passenger ferry to the ICRC.

Prof Rajiv Wejesinha , Secretary to the Human Rights Ministry , joining the discussion said this cooperation between the government and the ICRC has not been sufficiently acknowledged. As a result, Prof Wijesinha pointed out that certain statements made by the ICRC have been misunderstood and misrepresented internationally that they were against the government.

"I think the ICRC too has identified this ... just look at the last three statement made by the ICRC about the transportation of patients last week... the first had no mention of Sri Lankan Government, the second says that they are transporting the patients to the Trincomalee government hospital as an assistance to the Sri Lankan government... and for the first time they (ICRC officials) have made it crystal clear... they have acknowledged , that it is the government that provide the medical assistance ... the third one which I say ... even more inclined... .Now, they have recognized this and given credit to the where it is due... for what we have been always doing"

Secretary to the President, Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Palitha Kohona , and Military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara also joined the discussion to clarify various issues raised by the journalists participating the briefing.

Food supplies being loaded at the Trincomalee harbour -17 Feb

Government officials inspecting the loading of the first consignment of food at the Trincomalee port

Foreign journalists are briefed twice a week on the latest humanitarian situation in the North at Presidential Secreariate

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