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LTTE chief wants NGOs to disburse aid

Prabhakaran urged the donors not to send tsunami aid through Govt, reports PK Balachanddran. HT Relief Fund
PTI | By PK Balachanddran, Colombo
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2005 12:51 PM IST

The LTTE's supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran, has asked international donors to disburse their tsunami-related assistance to the Tamil-speaking North East Sri Lanka through their own NGOs, circumventing the Sri Lankan government.

This was revealed by the outfit's political advisor, Anton Balasingham, on Friday, in a speech at a refugee camp in Mullaitivu, an area controlled by the LTTE in North East Sri Lanka.

Balasingham's speech was posted in the website of the LTTE's Peace Secretariat.

According to Balasingham, Prabhakaran told the visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jan Petersen, that he was not insisting that the international donors give the aid directly to the LTTE. They could use their own NGOs to disburse the aid in the North East, he said. What they should not do, was to channel it through the Sri Lankan government, which had a tendency to discriminate against the Tamils, Prabhakaran said.

Reflecting the Supremo's stand, Balasingham said that the LTTE would not join any national level body on tsunami relief and reconstruction set up by the Sri Lankan government.

"The government is trying to bring disaster management, including the disbursement of international aid, under one national umbrella. Our experience of such structures is that discrimination of the Tamil region would again creep into this humanitarian equation, resulting in Tamil habitats being left out of the national programme," Balasingham said.

"Our leader has reiterated this point to the facilitators (peace brokers) when he met the Norwegian Foreign Minister and suggested that the international community need not deliver aid directly to the LTTE, but utilise its own NGO mechanism to disburse and monitor aid towards rebuilding the North East," he said.

The Tamils feared that the government in Colombo might divert the international aid to its own political programmes and even utilise part of it to strengthen its own military might, Balasingham said.

He charged that the Sri Lankan government was continuing to deny the Tamils their right to settle in their own habitats by designating them as "High Security Zones."

Prabhakaran's stand, as enunciated by Balasingham, means that the government's plan to have a national-level multi-ethnic body to receive and disburse aid, a body, which will include the LTTE's representatives, has failed.

Clearly, the LTTE does not want to be part of any national body. From the stand taken so far, it is also clear that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is the LTTE's proxy in the Sri Lankan parliament, will not join the national body. The TNA has so far kept out of national committees on tsunami relief.

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