|FM reiterates government’s concern for the safety of aid workers|
|Friday, 10 October 2008 12:38|
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama chaired the second interactive session with the UN and its specialized agencies to review the action being taken to support the efforts of the government in providing emergency humanitarian assistance to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Wanni, at the Foreign Ministry today (10th October 2008).
The UN and its specialized agencies were represented by Mr. Neil, Buhne, Resident Coordinator, UNDP, Mr. Phillippe Duamelle, Representative, UNICEF, Ms. Azeb Asrat, Country Director a.i., WFP, Mr. Amin Awad, Representative, UNHCR, Mr. Rainer Frauenfeld, Director, UNOPS and Mr. Christian Friedrichs, Deputy Security Advisor. Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona, senior officials of the Foreign Ministry, Mr. A.C.M. Razik, Secretary, Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services and Mr. S.B. Divaratne, Commissioner General of Essential Services were also present.
One of the two main issues taken up at this meeting was ensuring continuous and adequate supplies of food, medicine and essential items to the IDPs in the Wanni, in line with President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s directive to look after the welfare of civilians in the Wanni. The other aspect was to ensure the safety and security of all humanitarian personnel in the region.
Minister Bogollagama briefed the meeting on his discussion with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pertaining to the humanitarian situation in the Wanni, during his recent visit to the UN in New York.
Mr. S.B. Divaratne, Commissioner General of Essential Services stated that the first convoy of 650 MT of food has already being distributed. The second convoy of 50 lorries is currently being loaded and would be carrying 750 MT of food. These convoys are accompanied by several UN staff to ensure effective and speedy distribution. In addition, every day, 20 lorries are being sent to the Wanni carrying the normal requirement of essential items.
Secretary, Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services informed the meeting that within the next 10 days, 1141 MT of rice (locally purchased), 315 MT of flour, 270 MT of sugar and 15 MT of dhal are to be sent to the IDPs who were first displaced prior to February 2006. These quantities have been estimated for the period, October to December 2008.
Minister Bogollagama also emphasized that the government is taking maximum efforts to maintain adequate and continuous medical supplies and other emergency assistance to the Wanni on a regular basis, and is working closely with the UN and its specialized agencies, for this purpose. He also extended his appreciation for their effective role, under challenging circumstances in supporting government efforts. He assured that the government is mindful of the safety and security of the UN staff and all humanitarian aid workers.
The Minister further emphasized these meetings with UN and its specialized agencies will be held periodically, to ensure effective coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy civilians in the Wanni and to ensure the safety and security of all humanitarian aid workers.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
10th October 2008