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India asks Lanka for better access to aid agencies

India on Thursday joined the rest of the world in asking for better access for humanitarian agencies inside the hastily set up camps for the Tamil refugees who have come out of the 'no fire zone' (NFZ) in the last 10 days.

world Updated: Apr 30, 2009 21:15 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

India on Thursday joined the rest of the world in asking for better access for humanitarian agencies inside the hastily set up camps for the Tamil refugees who have come out of the 'no fire zone' (NFZ) in the last 10 days.

"We believe that there should be greater access for international humanitarian agencies in these camps,’’ High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, Alok Prasad, said on Thursday. He added that the issue was being discussed with the Lankan government.

"And we have been discussing it with the government of Sri Lanka. We do feel that international humanitarian agencies should have greater access and participation in the camps," Prasad said in response to a question.

It was the first time that India had directly spoken in favour of better access for aid agencies like the UN to the camps, which are spread across the districts of Vavuniya and Mannar among others.

The international community has been vocal about the allowing international agencies inside the camps.

More than 1.8 lakh displaced Tamils have come out of the NFZ till now and about 1.1 lakh of them did it since April 20. Both the UN and the Lankan government have made public appeals for aid.

Prasad was speaking after handing over 40000 family packs of relief material to the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC). He said that more than 4000 refugee patients have been treated at the hospital, run by a team of Indian medical corp doctors, in the eastern town of Pulmodai.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry said that SLA troops killed more than 35 LTTE cadres and were steadily moving into the remaining areas of the NFZ. "The hostage rescue operations continue despite a string of over half a dozen suicide bomb attacks including ramming of two explosive laden vehicles by the LTTE since April 28," the ministry said.

LTTE chief V Prabhakaran and the rest of the leadership continues to live inside the NFZ, officials said even as President Mahinda Rajapaksa reiterated on Thursday that there would never be a ceasefire but the rebels would yet surrender.

In another development, special peace envoy from Japan, Yashushi Akashi, arrived in Colombo on Thursday. He would be meeting officials to begin the process of "peace building, rehabilitation and reconstruction." Akashi would also help in streamlining the process of extending relief assistance to the displaced.

Meanwhile, the pre-rebel website TamilNet website said on Thursday that the condition at many of the camps were deplorable.

"No assistance has so far come from the government for the IDPs. Whatever provided was from the foreign and international organisations. Besides, the SLA is exploiting the sentiments of the Tamil residents of Vavuniyaa in supplying food and clothing to the IDPs. Tents have been recently provided. But a tent that is meant for five people is accommodating seven to twenty. Sanitary conditions are one of the worst problems, in the absence of proper toilets,’’ the website said.