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Italy to supply helicopters to Sri Lanka to combat human trafficking

Photo for representational purposes

Italy plans to supply helicopters to Sri Lanka to support its battle against human trafficking, President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office said on Wednesday.

The discussion about the helicopters took place between Italian Ambassador Rita Giuliana Mannella and Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday. The two also discussed strengthening the partnership between the two nations.

It is not clear what are the modalities for the helicopter procurement.

The decision is likely to raise eye-brows as the Indian Ocean island nation is still going through a difficult time over its economic situation.

Besides the helicopters, the two countries plan cultural exchanges, tourism enhancement, investments, defence aspects, and how Italy can help Sri Lanka during these challenging times.

Sri Lanka faces a problem of human trafficking wherein women have been tricked into working in the Gulf countries on false pretences and pushed into the sex trade. The government is rescuing such stranded women and has been keeping them in safe houses in Gulf countries.

Sri Lanka has been cooperating with various nations in tackling human trafficking. It is currently implementing a three-year project to monitor and combat trafficking in persons (TIP) with support from the US and in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Many Sri Lankans have fled the country owing to the economic distress and shortage of food. Some arrived in Tamil Nadu in India last year when they could not afford to buy food due to inflation.