India and Japan will provide millions of dollars worth of food aid to Sri Lanka as it grapples with its worst economic crisis, leading to nationwide protests over government mismanagement. The Indian High Commission said here on Friday that an Indian ship carrying emergency relief supplies such as rice, medicine and milk powder for the crisis-stricken Sri Lankan people was scheduled to arrive in Colombo on Sunday.
The ship carrying relief supplies was first sent to Sri Lanka from Chennai on Wednesday by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin. The first consignment contains 9,000 metric tons (MT) of rice, 200 metric tons of milk powder and 24 metric tons of life-saving drugs with a combined value of Rs 45 crore.
“The people of #India are standing by their brothers in #SriLankana. Rice, milk powder and medicines worth 2 billion (USD 5.6 million) are due to reach #Colombo on Sunday,” the Indian Mission tweeted. Chief Minister Stalin flagged off the relief cargo from Chennai port in the presence of his cabinet colleagues and senior officials.
Japan has also announced the provision of USD 1.5 million through the World Food Program (WFP) program for essential food rations and school meals.
“We are pleased to announce that the Japanese government will provide 15 1.5 million in emergency assistance through WFP to provide three months of essential food, including safe rice, salt and oil, to about 15,000 urban and rural people and 380,000 school children. Island, ”said Katsuki Kotaro, Japan’s interim charge d’affaires in Sri Lanka.
“We hope that this humanitarian assistance will help improve food access and nutrition for the people of Sri Lanka during the economic crisis,” Kotaro added.
Using the contribution, WFP will collect rice for daily free school meals and distribute ration packs containing essential products for at-risk families.
“Proper nutrition for those most in need will help mitigate the long-term effects of today’s economic downturn,” said Abdur Rahim Siddiqui, WFP Representative and Country Director for Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced this week that Sri Lanka would face a severe food crisis. He suggested using unused state land for cultivation as a mitigation measure.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. A crippling deficit in foreign reserves has led to long lines for fuel, cooking gas and other necessities while power shortages and rising food prices have taken a toll on the population. The economic crisis has also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka, with powerful Rajapaksa demanding his resignation.
India has said that as an eternal and reliable friend of Sri Lanka, New Delhi fully supports democracy, stability and economic recovery of the island nation.
In line with India’s Neighborhood First policy, New Delhi has this year alone increased its assistance to USD 3.5 billion to help the people of Sri Lanka overcome their current difficulties, the Foreign Ministry said on May 10.