NEW DELHI: Labelled ‘a message of care’, a fresh batch of relief supplies was handed over to crisis-hit Sri Lanka by the Indian High Commissioner on Sunday. Expressing gratitude, Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted: “Sri Lanka today received SLR 2 billion worth of Humanitarian aid including milk powder, rice and medicines from India. Our sincere gratitude to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and the people of India for the support extended.”
Stalin had flagged off the ship laden with supplies from Chennai on Wednesday. “A message of care from the people of India to the people of Sri Lanka. We handed over rice, milk powder and medicines worth SLR 2 billion to Sri Lankan minister G L Peiris,” Indian High Commission Gopal Baglay said.
The relief, sent via ship to Colombo, included 9,000 metric tonnes of rice, 50 metric tonnes of milk powder and 25 metric tonnes of drugs and medical supplies. This is the first consignment under a larger $16 million commitment of 40,000 MT of rice, 500 MT of milk powder and medicines by the TN government, according to a release.
“India has not sent any assistance anywhere of this scale ever before. They are to assist us more, for which we would be grateful,” Sri Lankan minister GL Peiris said, adding that India had so far extended assistance worth $4.5 billion.
The supplies will be distributed among the vulnerable and needy in the island nation. Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. A shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas and other essentials while power cuts and soaring food prices add to people’s misery.