Colombo: India and Japan will provide food relief supplies worth millions of dollars to Sri Lanka which is grappling with its worst economic crisis, leading to nationwide protests over the government’s mismanagement.
The Indian High Commission said here on Friday that an Indian ship laden with urgent relief supplies like rice, medicines and milk powder for the people of crisis-hit Sri Lanka is scheduled to reach Colombo on Sunday.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin flagged off the ship laden with relief supplies, the first to be dispatched to Sri Lanka, from Chennai on Wednesday.
The first consignment comprises 9,000 metric tonne (MT) of rice, 200 MT milk powder and 24 MT life-saving medicines with a combined value of Rs 45 crore.
“People of #India, standing by their brethren in #SriLanka. Rice, milk powder and medicines worth more than SLR 2 billion (USD 5.6 million) is scheduled to reach #Colombo on Sunday,” the Indian mission tweeted.
Chief Minister Stalin flagged off the cargo, carrying the relief, from the Chennai Port, in the presence of his cabinet colleagues and senior officials.
Japan has also announced to provide USD 1.5 million through a World Food Programme (WFP) programme for essential food rations and school meal programmes.
“We are pleased to announce that the Government of Japan will grant 1.5 million dollars emergency assistance through WFP to provide three months’ essential food supplies, including fortified rice, dhal and oil, for approximately 15,000 urban and rural people and 380,000 school children across the island,” Charge d’ Affaires ad interim of Japan to Sri Lanka Katsuki Kotaro said.
“We hope that this humanitarian assistance will help improve food access and nutrition for the people of Sri Lanka amidst the economic crisis,” Kotaro added.
Using the contribution, the WFP will procure rice for the daily free school meals and also distribute ration packs comprising essential commodities to vulnerable households.
“Getting the right nutrition to those who need it the most will help mitigate the long-term effects of today’s economic downturn,” said Abdur Rahim Siddiqui, WFP Representative and Country Director in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced this week that Sri Lanka would be facing a severe food shortage.
He advocated the use of unused state land for cultivation as a mitigation measure.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. A crippling shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas and other essentials while power cuts and soaring food prices heaped misery on the people.
The economic crisis has also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka and a demand for the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksas.
India has said that as an eternal and reliable friend of Sri Lanka, New Delhi is fully supportive of the island nation’s democracy, stability and economic recovery.
In keeping with India’s Neighbourhood First policy, New Delhi has extended this year alone support worth over USD 3.5 billion to the people of Sri Lanka for helping them overcome their current difficulties, the Ministry of External Affairs said on May 10.