Italian relief reaches  LTTE direct
What The Island said in 2005

(These reports were never disputed.)

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The government appears to have been caught unawares by Italy’s decision to hand over a large stock of relief supplies to the LTTE. An Italian government delegation led by Stefan Zanini of the Italian Foreign Ministry had handed over the consignment to the LTTE in Kilinochchi on Tuesday.

This comes amidst reports of clandestine efforts to include an LTTE- held area in UN chief Kofi Annan’s ‘Itinerary here. Annan accompanied by wife Nane and Mark Malloch Brown of the UNDP are scheduled to arrive Friday evening for a two-day visit. Authoritative sources, however said that the UN chief will not visit the LTTE-held region.

The Italians had moved the consignment across the Omanthai entry/exit point.

The LTTE has demanded that all relief to areas under its control should be channelled through the organisation. Officials last night acknowledged that the Italian relief had been the first direct relief to the LTTE after Indian Ocean tsunamis triggered by a seaquake off Indonesia devastated Sri Lanka.

"We wouldn’t oppose international help to areas under LTTE control. But direct assistance would cause problems," a senior official said. "This is not a political issue. This is purely a humanitarian issue. We expect the LTTE not to take advantage of the crisis."

Another official expressed the belief that the other countries, particularly the EU governments would consider direct aid to the LTTE.

It is not clear whether the Italian embassy had informed the Foreign Ministry of move.

The government had sent several hundred vehicle loads of supplies to LTTE-held areas since December 27.

(Jan 05, 2005)

Lanka protests over direct Italian aid

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lankan government has opposed direct international tsunami relief assistance to the LTTE. The government has emphasised that all material and financial aid to tsunami victims should be channelled through relevant authorities or internationally recognised agencies.

This follows Tuesday’s handing over of ten truck loads of relief material by an Italian delegation to LTTE political wing leader S. P. Thamilchelvan in Kilinochchi. The consignment handed over by Stefan Zanini of the Italian Foreign Ministry, according to well informed sources, is the first of several loads that were to be delivered directly to the LTTE.

The Foreign Ministry has reiterated the government’s stand on the distribution of international aid among the tsunami affected districts to the Italian Ambassador Salvatore Zotta. Government sources said that Ambassador Zotta had assured that there wouldnbe further consignments to the LTTE.

The government hadn’t been aware of the Italian move, the sources said. The Italians had moved the convoy across the Omanthai entry/exit point to Kilinochchi where the handing over of the consignment took place.

Security authorities at Omanthai hadn’t stopped the convoy, the sources said. The sources emphasised the need to prevent irregularities in this process.

"We really appreciate Italian help. They have given us field hospitals and a huge quantity of urgently required supplies," a government official said, adding Italians have also promised to rehabilitate government hospitals at Matara and Kinniya devastated by the recent tsunami. "But direct help to the LTTE would have serious repercussions," he said, adding, "If we didn’t object to direct Italian aid, other governments would have followed suite and that would have helped the LTTE’s demand for an interim self-governing authority in the north-east to facilitate the resumption of Oslo-facilitated negotiations."

According to the Vienna Convention of April 18, 1961, (Article 3 [e]) dealing directly with rebel organisations within the receiving state (in this case Sri Lanka) is construed as an unfriendly act. The National Joint Committee and the National Patriotic Movement yesterday said that they appreciated international assistance but the government should ensure that all parties engaged in the relief effort adhere to procedures. (Jan 06, 2005)

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