A Tamil-Canadian group welcomed Canada’s pledge of humanitarian aid for war-torn Sri Lanka yesterday, but also criticized the offer as weak because it lacks strict conditions to ensure the help doesn’t end up in the hands of the South Asian country’s government.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said in a statement that Canada and the United States have agreed to work together to support the United Nations in providing assistance to the island nation that has been mired in a civil war since 1983.

Ottawa’s offer of help came hours after the Canadian Tamil Congress issued a list of demands that included asking the Canadian government to send aid to what the congress called “reputable aid organizations” instead of the Sri Lankan government.

Earlier in the day, the Tamil Congress had stressed a need to send a strong message to the Sri Lankan government to let aid groups into the war zone, where Tamils say thousands of civilians are without food and medicine.
The group accuses the Sri Lankan government of not accounting for millions of dollars in Canadian aid following the massive tsunami in 2004 that killed more than 30,000 people in the country.

The Tamil Congress said that without stronger demands from Canada to allow non-government organizations in, today’s aid won’t reach those in need.