First food aid convoy reaches thousands displaced in northern Sri Lanka

Published on 10 March 2008

WFP has dispatched a first convoy of food and other supplies for 200,000 displaced people in the LTTE-controlled area of Sri Lanka.

WFP has dispatched a first convoy of food and other supplies for 200,000 displaced people in the LTTE-controlled area of Sri Lanka. The population has been cut off from humanitarian assistance for more than two weeks after fighting in the region escalated.

This convoy has delivered enough food to feed the population for one week. Over the coming weeks, WFP plans to send a minimum of one aid convoy per week which will travel from Vavunya through the Omantai crossing point to the conflict-affected areas. WFP truck convoys are also ferrying humanitarian supplies on behalf of other relief agencies.

“It is crucial that a regular flow of humanitarian supplies is provided to conflict victims who are extremely vulnerable and in need of the most basic necessities,” said Azeb Asrat, WFP Acting Country Director in Sri Lanka.

The UN and other international humanitarian aid agencies withdrew from the Vanni Region on 16 September following a government-issued directive requiring staff to be relocated outside the LTTE-controlled area.

“Food and other forms of relief assistance for civilians are paramount, as is the security of humanitarian aid workers who are trying to help them,” said Asrat. WFP staff located in the conflict zone work under difficult and dangerous conditions.

“WFP takes the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers very seriously,” said Tony Banbury, Asia Regional Director for WFP. “We will not tolerate threats to humanitarian workers nor disruptions to the critical dispatching of food for the people hit hardest by the continuing conflict in northern Sri Lanka.”

WFP in Sri Lanka currently provides humanitarian food supplies for an estimated 1.1 million people.