More than $7.4 million donated to help families in NZ shooting

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A handout image obtained from Dubai's Public Diplomacy Office on March 23, 2019 shows the Gulf emirate's Burj Khalifa tower lit the previous night with an image of New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in apprciation of her solidarity position with her country's Muslim community following the March 15 massacre of 50 worshippers in a mosque in Christchurch by an Australian white supremacist. (AFP)
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, second right, waves as she leaves Friday prayers at Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP)
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New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gestures as she departs following a gathering for congregational Friday prayers and two minutes of silence for victims of the twin mosque massacre, at Hagley Park in Christchurch on March 22, 2109. (AFP)
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New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leaves after the Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 22, 2019. (Reuters)
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, right, meets muslim men following Friday prayers at Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP)
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (C) meets with Muslim community leaders after the Parliament session in Wellington on March 19, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019

More than $7.4 million donated to help families in NZ shooting

  • Since then, New Zealanders have responded with an outpouring of support for the country’s small Muslim community

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: More than NZ$10.8 million ($7.4 million) in public donations has been received so far to help families of the 50 people killed in New Zealand’s mosque shootings, according to a pair of fund-raising websites.
A support fund on New Zealand site GiveaLittle.co.nz had received NZ$8,271,847 from more than 91,000 donors as of Sunday, while LaunchGood.com, a global crowdfunding platform focused on Muslims, had netted NZ$2,546,126 from over 40,000 donors.
The slaughter of 50 people at Friday prayers in two Christchurch mosques on March 15 shocked the normally laid-back country and prompted global horror, heightened by the gunman’s cold-blooded livestreaming of the massacre.
Since then, New Zealanders have responded with an outpouring of support for the country’s small Muslim community.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last week that the country would cover the costs of burying the 50 victims as well as “repatriation costs for any family members who would like to move their loved ones away from New Zealand.”
The attack also left dozens of people injured, some critically.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, was arrested within minutes of the massacre and has been charged with murder.


Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

Updated 18 October 2019

Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

  • President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

COLOMBO: The Palaly Airport, a former military air base, has been turned into Jaffna International Airport, the third gateway to the island.

The new airport was inaugurated by the island’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet ministers also witnessed the ceremony.

The refurbished airport, costing $13.8 million, has a 1,400-meter long runway to facilitate ATR 72 aircraft, which can carry 70 passengers. It will later be expanded to 3,500 meters to handle large passenger aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and A321.

Located approximately 16 km north of Jaffna, Palaly was a Sri Lanka Air Force base and a domestic airport. The airport was built by the British Royal Air Force during the WWII.

After independence, Palaly Airport was used as the second international airport of the country for flights to southern India before the civil war began, almost 40 years ago.

President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the upgraded Jaffna International Airport marked a “turning point” in Sri Lankan aviation, which would be “an asset for the entire nation.”

“The airport will deploy regional airliners and be elevated to an Asian travel destination,” the premier said.

“The airport, which is expected to accommodate direct flights between Sri Lanka and India, will contribute toward promoting the tourism industry in the north. This will play an important role in the economic growth and overall development of the country,” he added.  

The service will be made available first for Indian destinations, and later for flights to Australia, China, Japan, the Middle East and some European cities.                                                      

Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said Palaly airport was developed into Jaffna International Airport in a very short period of time.

“We were able to overcome the challenge successfully due to the sincere assistance we received from all institutes and stakeholders contributed to the development,” he said.

The minister said that in addition to Colombo and Jaffna international airports, three more airports in Sri Lanka will be upgraded to international airports, such as Ratmalana and Batticaloa.

“The opening of Jaffna airport for regional scheduled commercial passenger operations will undoubtedly enhance the quality of life of people in the area, with improved connectivity and accessibility that the airport brings to the region. It would also help reduce the current congestion at Bandaranaike International Airport and also eliminate the difficulties of the people in the north have in coming to Colombo Airport,” said H. M. C.Nimalsiri, director general of civil aviation.