Brits give generously as politics muddies the scene
Three minutes silence to be observed in UK on Wednesday
From Neville de Silva in London
The British government has called for a nation-wide three minutes silence to be observed on Wednesday in memory of those who lost their lives in last Sunday's tsunami disaster in South Asia as the British public collected an unprecedented 100 million pounds ( Rs. 20 billion ) for the seaquake victims.

Several British holiday-makers, especially in Thailand and Sri Lanka also lost their lives amongst hundreds of other Westerners enjoying the Christmas break when tragedy struck.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka had to fight its way on to the television screen to combat the tsunami tragedy from being turned into political propaganda.

High Commissioner Faisz Musthapha on Friday denied reports from a SkyNews reporter in Mullaitivu that no government relief has been sent to the LTTE-dominated area where some 15,000 people have died and no relief was seen to be on the way.

"I totally reject these allegations," the High Commissioner said after he was asked whether the reports are true. Mr Musthapha caught the interviewer by surprise when he said that the rival BBC was carrying a news story quoting the head of LTTE's political wing Thamilselvan saying that the Tigers have responded positively to an invitation from the government to participate in a national programme to provide relief.

He also referred SkyNews to remarks by Thamilselvan that relief and food supplies from the government are reaching the affected Tamil areas. While Mr. Musthapha said there were logistical difficulties in getting some supplies through to various affected areas in the north and south, he pointed out that some relief convoys meant for the north-east had been turned away ( by rebels).

On Thursday morning a representative of a Tamil organisation appeared on SkyNews to make allegations of discrimination over the distribution of relief and urged the TV network to cover the situation in the north-east.

While the political exploitation of human tragedy is played out here and elsewhere, Sri Lankans and the British public have generously contributed to the various relief funds set up here.

The Rotary Club of Teddington and Hampton handed over to the High Commission 250 shelter boxes each containing complete tents containing survival kits, water purification process, sleeping bags, medicines and cooking equipment valued at £110,000 which were passed on to SriLankan Airlines to be sent to Colombo

The High Commission has also collected 22 tons of miscellaneous food items and 13 truck loads of a variety of goods and four pallets of water bottles. By Friday it had handed over to be airlifted to Colombo some 48 tons of goods and collected £50,000.

These relief efforts have been supplemented by monies and goods collected by various Sri Lankan religious organisations such as the London Buddhist Vihare, Hindu temples, Muslim and Christian groups and others.

Meanwhile the British public whose unprecedented generosity began immediately after the news of the seaquake broke, is expected to contribute over £100 million for relief to the affected countries.

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