External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says India always stands by Sri Lanka, no refugee crisis yet

Under the “neighborhood first policy”, India has urgently responded to the Sri Lankan government’s request for assistance to overcome difficulties and will strengthen economic ties between the two countries.

Thiruvananthapuram: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Sunday that India had provided assistance to Sri Lanka and was monitoring developments in the island nation, adding that there was no refugee crisis at the moment.

“We have supported Sri Lanka, try to help and have always been helpful. They are working on their problem, we will see what happens. There is no refugee crisis at the moment,” Jaishankar told his arrival in Kerala as part of the BJP’s intensifying efforts to make gains in southern India.

Jaishankar’s comments reflect how India continues to stand with its neighbors in difficult times. His remarks are all the more important as Sri Lanka faces an unprecedented political and economic crisis.

Under the “neighborhood first policy”, India has urgently responded to the Sri Lankan government’s request for assistance to overcome the difficulties and will strengthen the economic ties between the two countries, be it through infrastructure connectivity and renewable energy.

“India has provided around $3.5 billion in aid which has been given in the form of currency exchange, funding for food and fuel, medicines and fertilizers,” the gatekeeper said earlier. -spokesperson of the MEA, Arindam Bagchi.

Responding to a question on India-Sri Lanka relations, he said: “We have responded urgently to the Sri Lankan government’s request for assistance in overcoming the difficulties”, adding that “India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and works for their best interest.”

Emphasizing that India has prioritized “neighborhood policy first”, Arindam Bagchi said, “India will seek to strengthen economic ties between the two countries whether through infrastructure and renewable energy connectivity”.

In line with its “neighborhood first” policy, India has been very active in assisting Sri Lanka during its economic crisis.

More than 25 tons of medicines and medical supplies that have been donated by the government and people of India over the past two months are valued at nearly SLR 370 million. This is in addition to the economic aid of about 3.5 billion dollars and the provision of other humanitarian supplies such as rice, milk powder, kerosene.

These humanitarian supplies come as a continuation of the Government of India’s continued support to the people of Sri Lanka in multiple forms such as financial aid, currency support, material supply and many more. These efforts prove that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Neighborhood First” policy, which places engagement between people, is still active.

India is becoming a stronger and more mutually beneficial partner for Sri Lanka. Apart from assistance during the pandemic and the fertilizer chaos, India is also donating commodities to the island nation.

Sri Lanka has been suffering from a diesel shortage since February, resulting in hours of daily power cuts. Currently, Sri Lanka is struggling with severe food and power shortages, forcing the country to seek help from its neighbours.

The recession is attributed to currency shortages caused by the clampdown on tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is unable to buy enough fuel and gas, while the population is also deprived of basic amenities.

Meanwhile, several dramatic videos have been making the rounds on social media following Saturday’s uprising, where thousands of protesters stormed his official residence in the capital Colombo, forcing him to flee to an unknown location.

With President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s demand for resignation, they broke into the President’s house, tore down the security cordons placed by the police, bathed in the pool and wandered around his kitchen and house.

The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Shavendra Silva, urged all citizens to support the armed forces and the police in order to maintain peace in the country, according to the media portal. He made the remarks in a special statement accompanied by the commanders of the three forces.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Tourism and Lands Minister Harin Fernando and Foreign Labor and Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said they had decided to step down from their ministerial portfolios with immediate effect.

Sri Lankan protesters also broke into Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private residence and set it on fire, angered by the unprecedented economic crisis.

Several journalists were also attacked by security forces, after which other demonstrators gathered in the area, DailyMirror reported.

Police used water cannons to arrest enraged protesters. Police also fired tear gas at the protesters, but despite this they entered PM’s house and set the house on fire.

Meanwhile, Colombo City Council (CMC) firefighters said they were informed that the Prime Minister’s private residence in Colombo had been set on fire and his crews were unable to reach the scene due to the unrest, according to DailyMirror.

Wickremesinghe, who was appointed Prime Minister in May, announced that he would step down from his post in order to ensure the continuity of government and the security of all citizens.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also agreed to step down on Wednesday.

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