India and Japan are set to provide millions of dollars worth of food aid to Sri Lanka, which is grappling with its worst economic crisis, prompting nationwide protests at government mismanagement.
The Indian High Commission announced here on Friday that an Indian ship loaded with urgent supplies such as rice, medicines and milk powder for the people of crisis-ridden Sri Lanka is due to reach Colombo on Sunday.
Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister MK Stalin flagged out the aid-laden ship that was the first to be sent to Sri Lanka from Chennai on Wednesday.
The first shipment includes 9,000 tons (MT) of rice, 200 tons of milk powder and 24 tons of life-saving medicines with a total value of Rs 45 crore.
“People from #India standing by their brothers in #SriLanka. More than SLR 2 billion (USD 5.6 million) worth of rice, milk powder and medicines are expected to reach #Colombo on Sunday,” the Indian mission tweeted.
Prime Minister Stalin waved the relief cargo from the Chennai port in the presence of his cabinet colleagues and senior officials.
Japan has also announced it will provide US$1.5 million for basic food rations and a school meals program through a World Food Program (WFP) program.
We are pleased to announce that the Japanese government, through WFP, will provide $1.5 million in emergency aid to provide basic foodstuffs, including fortified rice, dhal and oil, to approximately 15,000 urban and rural residents and 380,000 school children in the country for three months to provide whole island Said Katsuki Kotaro, Charge d’ Affaires ad interim from Japan to Sri Lanka.
We hope this humanitarian assistance will help improve access to food and nutrition for the people of Sri Lanka amid the economic crisis, Kotaro added.
With the contribution, WFP will source rice for the daily free school meals and also distribute ration packs of essential items to needy households.
Providing the right nutrition to those who need it most will help mitigate the long-term effects of today’s economic downturn, said Abdur Rahim Siddiqui, WFP representative and country director in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced this week that Sri Lanka will face serious food shortages.
He advocated using unused state land for cultivation as a mitigation measure.
Sri Lanka is experiencing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. A crippling lack of foreign exchange reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas and other essentials, while power outages and soaring food prices have left people in misery.
The economic crisis has also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka, demanding the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksas.
India has said that New Delhi, as an eternal and staunch friend of Sri Lanka, fully supports the island nation’s democracy, stability and economic recovery.
In line with India’s Neighborhood First policy, New Delhi has granted over US$3.5 billion worth of assistance to the people of Sri Lanka this year alone to help them overcome their current difficulties, the foreign ministry said on May 10 with.
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