British celebrities, MPs endorse Mercy Mission to Vanni

[TamilNet, Thursday, 02 April 2009, 05:34 GMT]
A global appeal event for the "Mercy Mission," a ship carrying relief and medical supplies to Vanni, was held Tuesday at the Royal Horseguards, UK, attended by several British Members of Parliament, celebrities to raise awareness of the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka to the public, organizers of the event said. The event was sponsored by "Act Now" and several Tamil charities. A petition addressed to the President of Sri Lanka was signed by the attending MPs and other celebrities, and the organizers said that the petition will be circulated to political leaders and other celebrities in US, Europe, Canada and Australia before the petition is sent to Colombo.

The UK-based Hindu Temples Group pledged to donate £200,000 to the mission, and presented a check for the initial payment of £50,000 at the event, attendees said.

Tim Martin of ACT NOW, a UK based organisation, opened the proceedings describing his past work in the Vanni, the current humanitarian situation and the desperate need for this mercy mission.

Jade Parfitt lighting the flame
Jade Parfitt lighting the flame
Maya Arulpragasam, the Tamil music phenom, sent a supporting statement read at the event by one of her close relatives. "A baby born in the Vanni Region today is getting no access to hospitals (they bombed the last one and it's run out of supplies.) There is limited food because the government banned the aid agencies and there is no education because the trapped civilians only have one option and that is to make it to the government-run internment camps where they only enforce the language and ideas of the government. The Tamils have less rights then the animals in Sri Lanka," Maya's statement said.

"The Mercy Mission will carry dry food and medicines for Tamil civilians in Vanni within the Sri Lankan Government’s “safe zone." Many have already perished from starvation and preventable disease. We can not ignore these genocidal conditions, and if the aim of the SL Government is to protect the lives of the civilians, then this ship will reach its destination and lives will be saved," Maya's statement added.

Moment of silence remembering the Vanni dead
Moment of silence remembering the Vanni dead

Keith Vaz MP, Joan Ryan MP and Siobhain McDonagh MP, and John McDonnell MP from Labour Party, and Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Orpington John Horam MP, and Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Croydon Central Andrew Pelling MP attended the event.

British celebrity models Jade Parfitt, Jasmine Guinness and Deborah Leng also attended the event.

A petition was signed by the VIPs and read to the attendees:


    News of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of civilians in the conflict affected Vanni region of Northern Sri Lanka has been filtering out through the UN, international humanitarian and human rights organisations and the ICRC in recent weeks.

    As your Excellency is no doubt aware, civilians in the region are in desperate need of assistance as the last functional temporary hospital in the designated 'safe zone' has officially been forced to close due to a lack of medicine and medical supplies. Additionally, food supplies are not available in adequate quantities to support the current population

    Therefore, the international community has supported a Mission of Mercy ship carrying a consignment of food, medicine, medical teams and other essential items to the suffering civilians in the conflict affected region of northern Sri Lanka.

    We appeal to your humanitarian conscience to allow this aid to be delivered, without hindrance or restraint.

    Furthermore, we the undersigned appeal to you to agree to an immediate ceasefire and to ensure that an adequate amount of humanitarian assistance be permitted into the conflict area where it can be distributed to those devastated by the conflict.



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