Sri Lanka received the first consignment of a $16 million humanitarian aid package from neighbouring India to help mitigate severe shortages caused by the country’s worst economic crisis in recent memory.
Gopal Baglay, the Indian envoy to Sri Lanka, delivered the donation from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Gamini Peiris late Sunday. The goods, worth $5.6 million, include rice, milk powder and essential medicines.
They will be distributed among vulnerable families in different parts of the country, the Indian embassy said in a statement.
Last week, the country’s new prime minister said that petrol stocks ran down to a final day, worsening commuting problems and lengthening lines. But gasoline shipments paid through an Indian credit line started arriving over the weekend.
Sri Lanka has suspended repayment of about $7 billion in foreign loans due this year out of $25 billion to be repaid by 2026. The country’s total foreign debt is $51 billion.
Separately, India has provided $3.5 billion in economic assistance in loans and buyers’ credit for food, medicine and fuel.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has created political unrest, with a protest occupying the entrance to the president’s office demanding his resignation was continuing for 40 days. Government supporters earlier this month attacked the peaceful protesters, sparking countrywide riots during which nine people, including a lawmaker who was beaten to death, were killed.
Many homes and properties of sitting ministers and ruling party politicians were burned. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency, giving police and the broad military powers to search, arrest and detain suspects.