Sri Lankan port yet to clear Mercy Mission supplies

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 28 July 2009, 11:09 GMT]
Sri Lankan port authorities in Colombo are refusing to hand over the humanitarian supplies of Tamil diaspora Mercy Mission, stating that the Indian authorities are yet to produce necessary documents including the Bill of Lading, Sri Lankan Red Cross officials in Colombo said. Meanwhile, customs authorities in Colombo said though the government has waved off the import duty, the Sri Lankan Red Cross has to pay demurrage for harbouring the cargo in the port.

Several items in the cargo are nearing expiry dates, SLRC officials said.

Either the Indian High Commission or the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) should supply the necessary documents without further bureaucratic delays, the officials further said.

Earlier, in June, the Mercy Mission ship MV Captain Ali came to Sri Lanka with 650 tons of humanitarian cargo for the internally displaced people in Vavuniyaa. The supplies were checked by the Sri Lankan naval authorities. However,  permission was not granted to unload the cargo and the ship was turned away. The shlp entered Chennai harbour.

Later, especially after pressure from the Tamil diaspora and the activists in Tamil Nadu, the Indian Red Cross Society agreed to accept the humanitarian relief and transport it to the Sri Lanka and hand it over to Sri Lanka Red Cross Society.

The cargo has been certified for the 4th time (UK Customs, French Customs, Sri Lanka Navy, Indian Customs/Police/Navy) as being entirely humanitarian in nature, according to Mercy Mission organisors.

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