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Indian aid to reach Lanka this weekend

T V Sriram in Colombo | November 13, 2008 14:37 IST

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A consignment of 1,680 tonnes of food and relief material from India is expected to reach the Sri Lanka [Images] this weekend as part of humanitarian aid for thousands of civilian Tamils caught in the war between the Liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam and the island nation's Army.

The Indian humanitarian assistance would be the first of its kind in nearly two decades, though New Delhi [Images] provided medical and other assistance to Sri Lanka after the 2004 devastating tsunami that killed thousands of people.

"A sum of 1,680 tonnes of relief is being dispatched from India after proper checking and inspection and is expected to reach Sri Lanka by this weekend," an official said.

The aid comes as international agencies grapple to provide food an estimated two lakh Tamil civilians who are displaced due to the offensive against LTTE [Images] by the Lankan Army.

Sri Lanka had accepted India's offer to send relief material to the affected civilians in the north of the island during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Basil Rajapaksa, Special Adviser to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in October.

It was also decided at that time that the Tamil Nadu government will also mobilise relief material to the affected civilians.

The worst hit is Kilinochchi, where the Sri Lankan troops have reportedly captured several areas in the LTTE stronghold, leaving hundreds of civilians displaced.

According to the Government Agent in Kilinochchi, the total number of IDPs in the district continues to increase following ongoing confrontations in Poonakary division as well as aerial bombardments recently reported in Paranthan.

UN agencies reported that there has been displacement of people from Semmankunru and Kiranchchi towards the Tharmapuram and Visuvamadu areas.

The Regional Director of Health Service, Kilinochchi, reported that a consignment of drugs have been transported to the war-torn area.

The RDHS also reported 16 malaria patients have now been identified and treated in Kilinochchi during the month of October, while 194 snake bites cases were admitted in the Tharmapuram hospital facility, with two deaths also reported.

In the meantime, road accidents have increased significantly in areas of dense IDP concentration with 540 such cases including two deaths reported last month in Tharmapuram, a UN report said.

The Tamil Nadu government has arranged family packs containing food and non-food items including clothes and hygiene products for the civilians who have been displaced in the intensified clashes between LTTE and the Sri Lankan security forces.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the government agencies will coordinate the distribution work.

As part of the supplies, the UN on November 3 dispatched a food convoy into the Wanni region (comprising the LTTE stronghold of Kilinochchi and Mullaittivu districts) to ameliorate the lot of the people.

The 29 truck WFP convoy carried 426 Metric tonnes of food to feed 121,714 IDPs for 7 days.

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