Civic groups warn of starvation

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 25 August 1998, 10:34 GMT]
An umbrella organisation representing various civic groups in the Vanni region has issued an appeal to major media organisations to highlight the difficulties faced by residents in the area.

The report, signed by the head of the organisation, Mr. P. Vinayagamoorthi, focuses on the stalled state of govt. institutions in the Vanni and the hardships faced by the populace following the cut in rations.

Extracts from the appeal include:

"Since 1 July, the northern districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu are experiencing cuts in food ration for the displaced people. This has resulted in the deterioration of peoples' living conditions and normal life....".

"The situation is particularly bad in the Kilinochchi district. There are over 175,000 people from 42,000 families living in the area, according to official figures, and based on the government's figures, there are 32 000 families living in the area are legible for rations. Yet, the government has only allowed food for only 27,000 families earlier, and later reduced this to 18,000. This figure has now, from June, been reduced to 8,780 families."

"The govt. agents in these areas are unable to distribute this minute amount, and now the situation has worsened to so much that the people are in the brink of starvation. They have appealed and protested in various forms, but to no avail."

"They have now resorted to the desperate action of besieging offices of govt. institutions until these organisations can promise something. Even this attempt is expected to fail."

"The population of the Kilinochchi district is entirely dependent on cultivation and various military operations, large scale occupation of agricultural lands and construction of irrigation dams have forced them to move to other areas abandoning their livelihoods and the food producing capability."

"They live entirely on handouts, which are not supplied to those who arrived in Kilinochchi following Riviresa military operation and those who fled their homes during Sath Jaya military operation."

"After the newly introduced cut in rations, they have tried various means to convey their message to the govt. through the Government Agents, and to the world via the UN-representatives and ICRC, yet, up to now, their desperate calls seem not have been heeded."

"To make the situation worse, the govt. has sanctioned only 2500 barrels of fuel oil out of the necessary 3555 barrels, but only 1000 barrels have been actually allowed into the region up last month. This has been reduced further to 515 barrels from this month."

"Towards the end of 20. Century, a horrendous war is being waged by the govt., while exerting ever increasing pressure on the civilian population by various means. There are accounts of deaths caused by the long-range shelling, aerial bombings, diseases - due to lack of proper medicines - and hunger."

"Large scale starvation is beginning to emerge. Humanitarian organisations based and working here, functioned in line with the rules and regulations put forward by the govt. These organisations guaranteed earlier that the govt would provide food and medicines, and that they would be able to

provide other items. Now, they are aware of the govt's breaching of earlier agreements."

"Therefore, we humbly request all international organisations to, either directly or indirectly make arrangements to feed our starving population."


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