Rains hinder food convoys to the North

By Leon Berenger

While the government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have agreed on how aid from India is to be delivered to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Wanni, bad weather is preventing food and other essential items from reaching the conflict zone, officials say.

Earlier, the government and the ICRC were caught up in a dispute on who had the final say in the delivery of goods to IDPs, with both sides insisting it was their own responsibility. “The matter has now been resolved, and it was agreed that both sides will work together,” Commissioner for Essential Services S. B. Divaratne said.

He said 60 per cent of the 1,700 tons of family packs sent by India left the ICRC warehouse in Peliyagoda earlier in the week. The goods, which were loaded on to sealed trucks under the supervision of the security forces, will be stored in Government Agent facilities in Vavuniya before being transported further north over the next two days.

Mr. Divaratne said the family packs would be handed over to IDPs holding meal tickets provided by the GAs and those in charge of the distribution. In a statement, the ICRC confirmed they would be working with the Sri Lankan government in distributing the food.

“The distribution will be done in line with standard ICRC criteria, according to the greatest needs as identified. The lists of beneficiaries will be proposed by Government Agents in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi and discussed with the ICRC,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, many key roads in the North are flooded, making transportation difficult. It is hoped that at least 120 trucks will be arriving in the conflict areas early this week, Mr. Divaratne said.

Another convoy of 45 UN trucks carrying essentials for IDPs is due to head for the North on Tuesday. “However, everything depends on the weather”, Mr. Divaratne said.

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