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MV Ali: Refugees yet to benefit from relief

[Express Buzz, Friday, 24 July 2009 07:56 No Comment]

The Sri Lankan Red Cross (SLRC) has written to the Indian High Commission here to help it clear the 840 tonnes of relief material sent by the Indian Red Cross (IRC) from the Colombo port.

However, the Indian officials seemed reluctant to get involved, sources told Expre­ss, adding that it was essentially a dispute between two NGOs — the SLRC and the IRC — and that it would be better if the two resolved the issues between themselves.

Neutral observers say that the Indian authorities have done their best by allowing the vessel MV Captain Ali to unload the 27 containers in Chennai; getting the IRC to take charge of it, and sending it to Colombo by MV Cap Colorado and finally, getting the Sri Lankan government to accept the cargo on humanitarian grounds.

Earlier, the Sri Lankan authorities had disallowed MV Captain Ali saying that it was carrying cargo sent by the LTTE for propaganda and not for humanitarian purposes. Eventually, Colombo not only allowed the cargo to come in, but also exempted it from customs and other taxes. Only the port charges and the transportation had to be paid. But the SLRC and IRC have been fighting over who should pay these charges.

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