Sri Lanka sends relief to isolated Jaffna | india | Hindustan Times
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Sri Lanka sends relief to isolated Jaffna

Lanka has sent essential supplies to the besieged Jaffna amid local and international concern for half-a-million civilians trapped there.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2006 14:32 IST

Sri Lanka has sent essential supplies to the besieged Jaffna peninsula amid local and international concern for half-a-million civilians trapped there, officials said.

A government spokesman said a formal request was offered to relief agencies to support a food convoy by road to the Jaffna peninsula, virtually cut off since fighting erupted in mid-August.

"International humanitarian organisations are requested to offer their assistance to the supply of humanitarian goods to the Jaffna Peninsula," said Chandrapala Liyanage, spokesman for President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The president's office announced on Sunday night a large convoy of trucks would be assembled soon to transport essentials to Jaffna, where prices have skyrocketed with the closure of the only land access, via the A-9 highway.

Peace talks between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels collapsed in Geneva last month as the authorities resisted Tiger demands to open the A9 highway to Jaffna.

The move to open the road for a food convoy came as the island's key international backers — the US, the European Union, Japan and Norway — were set to meet in Washington Monday for talks on Sri Lanka.

The severe shortages in Jaffna prompted neighbouring India to announce last week that it would send over 7,000 tonnes of food and medicine for the Tamil civilians in Jaffna, who are living under virtual siege conditions.

India's Foreign Secretary, Shiv Shankar Menon, was expected here this week to convey New Delhi's deep concern over the humanitarian crisis, diplomats said.

Minority Tamils in Jaffna share close cultural and religious links with the more than 60 million Tamils in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The opening of the highway was a key element of the February 2002 truce brokered by Norway.

New Delhi has backed Oslo's efforts to end the island's drawn out conflict which has claimed over 60,000 lives since 1972.