Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Soldiers first in Sri Lanka as secret Australian fuel deal keeps navy afloat

Whilst millions across the island are forced to queue hours in the face of crippling fuel shortages, Sri Lanka’s navy has been getting a steady supply of fuel through a secret deal forged with Australia.

According to a report in The Australian, Sri Lankan navy patrol boats are regularly being refuelled in India at Canberra’s expense.

“Due to the secrecy of Operation Sovereign Borders activities, the minister’s office has declined to comment on the agreement, which was put into action about a fortnight ago,” said The Australian.

The report states that the deal was made during Australian Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil’s visit to Colombo in late June, where she met with several accused Sri Lankan war criminals and doubled down on her government’s much-criticised border policy.

Read more: 

Shaking hands with war criminals – Australia’s Home Affairs minister meets Sri Lankan military

Australian minister doubles down on borders after meeting another Sri Lankan war criminal

Alongside the secret deal, the Sri Lankan navy openly admitted that the Australian government openly handed over tens of thousands of litres of fuel to the military.

Over 450 metric tons of fuel were reportedly supplied to the navy earlier this week, whilst  27,000 litres of fuel were given to the air force.

Sri Lanka is currently in the midst of its worst-ever economic crisis, which has seen severe shortages in basic necessities in essential goods such as food, medicine and fuel. Last week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera declared that fuel distribution across the island would be restricted for 12 months because of Sri Lanka’s scant foreign exchange reserves.

Fuel queues at petrol stations are a common sight across the island, with some lining up for days for a refill.

Australia’s deal and donations come as part of growing ties with the war crimes accused Sri Lankan military. Last week, an Australian vessel docked in Colombo, as it forcibly sent back 46 asylum seekers who were looking to flee Sri Lanka. The move reportedly marked the first time that asylum seekers fleeing Sri Lanka are forcibly brought to the island on board an Australian Border Force ship.

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.