UN to raise US$ 155.5 m for Lankan IDPs

  • Army closes-in-on last LTTE stronghold

  • 58 Div recovers water scooters

As major battles on the eastern flank came to a rapid end with the last LTTE bastion at Puthukudirippu on the verge of collapse, UN agencies operating in Sri Lanka are planning to raise a staggering USD 155.5 million for relief operations in the northern and eastern provinces.

The Inter-agency Standing Committee Country Team in Sri Lanka Thursday (February 19) called for donors’ financial support for 103 projects to be implemented this year.

The announcement made simultaneously in Geneva, New York and Colombo coincided with the arrival of John Holmes, United Nations Under- Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. It came within 48 hours after the Sri Lankan government appointed a committee headed by Prof. Rajiva Wijesinghe, Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat and the Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights to probe INGO/NGO spending in Sri Lanka.

The visiting UN delegation and the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka Neil Bhune had met with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on Thursday to discuss the situation on the Vanni front. In an interview with The Island recently, the Defence Secretary said that the army hadn’t come across what he called large scale civilian construction in the newly liberated areas to justify massive spending by INGOs including UN agencies.

According to the UN Office of the Resident Coordinator, funds were needed for food aid, shelter, non-food items, camp management, protection, economic recovery and infrastructure, agriculture, health care, water and sanitation, education and nutrition. Food aid would account for almost USD 60 million alone, the UN Office said.

On Wednesday (February 18), the ICRC delivered 30 metric tonnes of foodstuffs provided by the Sri Lankan government to Putumattalan, the only recognised entry/exit point north of Mullaitivu on the north-eastern coast.

The consignment consisted of 20 tonnes of flour, six tonnes of dhal and four tonnes of sugar. The urgently needed supplies had been transported on a vessel provided by the Sri Lankan Port Authority flying the ICRC flag.

The 58 Division commanded by Brigadier Shavindra Silva conducting clearing operations in Puthukuduirrippu west area had recovered two under water scooters, 20 diving kits, LTTE uniforms and Oxygen tanks at an LTTE hideout on Thursday. With the army gradually destroying remaining LTTE strong points, the area under LTTE control is now down to about 100 square kilometres.

Meanwhile, the army on Wednesday (February 18) tracked down a group of LTTE infiltrators in the Oddu Sudan area operating within the newly liberated area. During the confrontation, the army had killed three LTTE cadres and recovered their bodies along with three suicide jackets, one 40 mm grenade launcher, two 2.5 kg claymore mines, three T56 assault rifles, two radio sets.


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