Flu epidemic among refugees

[TamilNet, Friday, 08 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
S. Satchithanantham, head of Aalankerni Vipulananda Mahaviththiyalayam (school) told a school principles conference in Trincomalee this morning, that 35 families displaced from Upparu, 40 km south of Trincomalee, are camping in the school premises from March 18 without any facilities or a place to go to, said sources in Trincomalee.

The villagers were evicted by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on March 18, because, according to the SLA, Upparu could be used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a staging post for attacks on SLA camps in the area.

The villagers who took refuge in Aalankerni were promised rupees 700,000 by the Commissioner General of Essential Services (CGES) to build temporary huts and toilets, but the buildings are yet to be erected.

Besides, the flu epidemic that is ravaging the Trincomalee District has caused more than 90% of the refugees at the Mahaviththiyalyam to be taken ill, but no doctors or medical personnel have visited these refugees.

Mr. Satchithanantham told the conference that the refugees were using the school toilets, but with the influenza raging in the District and the general lack of hygiene of the refugees, he was forced to prohibit the use of school toilets for these persons.

They were now forced to use the scrub jungles nearby for their ablutions, he said.

W J Tissera, Secretary Ministry of Health, Northeastern Provincial Council (NEPC) said that a medical team would be despatched forthwith to attend to the sick refugees.

The displaced from Upparu staged a token fast last month before the Kinniya Divisional Secretariat demanding that they be allowed to return to their village.

They were assured by the Divisional Secretary that he would have a positive reply to their petition by the end of a month.

The villagers threatened to resume the fast if an answer to their problem was not found within this time.

 

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