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Tamil aid ship condition ‘critical’ despite Indian assurance

[TamilNet, Saturday, 27 June 2009 07:56 No Comment]

Despite the Indian government’s statement that the Sri Lankan government had relented on its refusal to allow the aid ship sent by Tamil expatriates to dock in Colombo harbour and that the supplies for Tamil refugees would be offloaded by the Indian Red Cross, there has been no action at all, the organisers of the mercy mission said Friday. In an urgent press release, they said the MV ‘Captain Ali’ has been at sea for 51 days and the condition of its crew and passengers is now critical.

On Wednesday, Indian’s External Affairs Minister, Mr. S.M.Krishna, declared after meeting a high-level Sri Lankan delegation led by Basil Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan President’s brother: “I also requested the delegation that as a humanitarian gesture, the Sri Lankan Government allow the ship Captain Ali to off load the relief items on board meant for IDPs in Northern Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan delegation kindly agreed to our suggestion and these would now be routed to Sri Lanka through the Indian Red Cross.”

The full text of the Mercy Mission’s statement follows:

After the positive statement by the External Affairs Minister Hon. Mr. S.M.Krishna on Wednesday evening (24 June 2009) regarding the Mercy Mission ship the MV Captain Ali, Mercy Mission personnel, supporters, volunteers and the Tamil Diaspora as a whole were relieved that there was movement on the part of the Government of Sri Lanka and that the desperately needed humanitarian relief aboard the ship would be delivered to the 300,000 Tamil civilians in the internment camps in Sri Lanka.

As of Friday evening (26 June 2009) Mercy Mission has yet to be formally notified of the 24 June decision and statement by the Indian and Sri Lankan governments. There has also not been ANY movement at the ground level and the MV Captain Ali remains anchored five (5) miles off the Port of Chennai.

The situation on the ship is now critical. The crew and passengers have been onboard for 51 days without respite and in very harsh, stressful conditions. The passengers, Uthayanan Thavarajasingam and Kristjan Gudmundsson have formally requested that the authorities allow them to disembark and to take the next flight to London and Iceland.

We request that the Government of India to:

1. Allow the MV Captain Ali to enter Chennai Port and unload the humanitarian relief which will be kept “in transit” and handed over to the Indian Red Cross for transportation to Sri Lanka and distribution in the internment camps;

2. Allow the passengers to disembark and proceed to the nearest international airport where they will be able to fly to their home countries;

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