UNbacked relief convoy reaches 40000 Sri Lankans cut off for past month

A humanitarian convoy of 84 trucks organized with United Nations help has brought in food, fuel and medical supplies to 40,000 displaced Sri Lankans cut off for the past month by fighting between the Government and Tamil separatists in the north-east of the strife-torn Indian Ocean island. Two weeks’ supply of food, 1,000 tents, 300 boxes of fortified biscuits and 20 tonnes of other fortified food stuff for children and pregnant women arrived in Vaharai yesterday, along with 1,000 hygiene kits, 2 50-kilo barrels of chlorine and a month’s supply of fuel, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Spokesperson Orla Clinton said today. But 33 other trucks with essential food items were unable to proceed, representing a 40 per cent shortage of what was intended for one month. With this initial convoy it is hoped that further facilitation and access will be provided to distribute and monitor the supplies. “The UN in Sri Lanka reiterates its concern for all displaced persons in the Vaharai area and in particular for the health and nutritional status of children and pregnant women,” Ms. Clinton said. “We urge the parties to ensure freedom of movement, and to facilitate unimpeded and secure access for international humanitarian actors to this vulnerable population.” The convoy was organized by the Commissioner General of Essential Services in cooperation with the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other organisations.

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