Authorities Hinder Help to Tsunami Affected Regions
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 December 2004, 23:27 GMT]
Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) faces difficulties in conducting relief operations in the eastern district of Sri Lanka. Divisions of the Sri Lanka army and police as well as Sinhalese groups stop trucks with aid cargo at Habarana junction, which links Amparai, Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts, and divert them to the south saying that the three eastern districts do not need more aid.
Mr. R. Sampanthan, parliament representative for the Trincomalee district, had to intervene to secure the release of a TRO truck with relief materials for Batticaloa when a group of suspected JVP supporters seized it at Habarana junction.
Wednesday night the Sri Lanka army in Trincomalee town took over a truck with aid cargo from Jaffna to the Trincomalee Government Agent Office. It is situated in the Fort Frederick where the SLA Gajaba regiment is also stationed. This incident took place at Madathady junction downtown. A group of Tamil civilians present at the scene protested. Sourced said that soldiers assaulted a Tamil youth, a member of the group. Later the Senior Superintendent of Police of Trincomalee district apologized for the incident and the truck with cargo was returned to TRO.
In the meantime the transport of relief materials by the TRO to Mullaitivu and Killinochchi district faces delays that are caused by SLA at the entrance to the LTTE held Vanni region. All goods in trucks are unloaded and checked before the trucks can proceed.
TRO have made official complaint to authorities about the discrimination in the distribution of relief materials by the State agencies. NGOs cited an incident that took place Tuesday when a policeman guarding a refugee camp in Trincomalee sent back a group of Sinhalese with relief materials to be distributed among tsunami victims. Sources said that the reason given was that the inmates of the camp were Tamils and not Sinhalese.
In spite of all these difficulties the TRO is fully committed to serve the victims of all communities in the northeast. All TRO offices in the east are working around the clock, ensuring better coordination of the relief operations in the district.