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DMK asks Centre to urge Lanka to allow aid ship

Source: PTI
June 20, 2009 00:14 IST
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The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Friday asked External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to allow unloading of a ship carrying relief materials sent by overseas Tamil diaspora for civilians displaced due to the war in the island nation.

The Vessel -- MV Captain Ali -- which set sail from Britain on April 20, is currently anchored outside Chennai port as it was turned away by the Lankan Navy on June 9 after detaining it for several days.

Union IT Minister A Raja and Tamil Nadu School Education Minister K Ponmudy met Krishna in New Delhi and asked him to intervene and persuade Sri Lanka to allow unloading of the relief materials sent through the vessel.

The ministers also handed over a letter written by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi to Krishna in which the DMK leader said the ship carrying humanitarian aid collected by Tamils in Europe for the internationally displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka was turned away by the island nation's navy.

It is carrying about 884 tonnes of food, medicine and other relief materials. "The External Affairs Minister listened to us carefully and he assured us that he will take up the matter with authorities concerned," Raja told PTI after the meeting.

He said they also asked Krishna to tell the Sri Lankan government to distribute the items to displaced Tamil civilians currently living in camps in northern Sri Lanka through international aid agencies and ICRC.

In his letter, Karunanidhi said it was customary for the international community to send relief materials to the suffering humanity.

"I am confident that this intervention on purely humanitarian ground and based on several international precedents will go a long way in helping the internally displaced Tamils now housed in makeshift camps," he said in the letter, released to the media in Chennai.

According to Lankan navy, the ship was turned away on the ground that it violated internationally accepted formalities followed by merchant ships seeking to enter Lankan waters and that it did not conform to the International Ships Port Facility Security code.

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