WFP says food situation ‘critical’ - amid MoD embargo

[TamilNet, Sunday, 27 August 2006, 06:34 GMT]
The food situation in LTTE-controlled areas is becoming ‘critical’ the World Food Program (WFP) announced Friday, as Sri Lanka’s Defence Ministry maintained its blockade. “In spite of high-level negotiations between the UN and the Government, the issue of access to areas not under Government control has not been resolved,” the WFP said. WFP said its staff “are [still] operating inside both the Vanni and Jaffna, but all supplies are running low in these areas due to the closing of the access roads by the Ministry of Defence.”

According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the number of displaced people has risen to 204,000 persons in both LTTE-controlled and Government-controlled areas. The vast majority are Tamils. Tens of thousands are Muslims in the eastern province.

“The food situation in the LTTE-controlled Vanni is becoming critical as food stocks are being depleted,” the WFP said, adding that shelling by Sri Lanka’s armed forces had sparked major displacement of people.

“One of the major constraints in the implementation [of WFP duties] is the lack of access to LTTE-controlled areas where an estimated 60,000 IDPs are located.”

“IDPs in the Vanni are also receiving WFP rations from the local authorities but the numbers will soon surpass the [available] food stock levels.”

In the period the WFP ‘Emergency Report’ covered, 10-23 August, “[Sri Lanka Army] artillery shelling by night continued in Kilinochchi, Trincomalee and Jaffna with aerial bombing in Pallai and Pachchilaipalli.”

“Trenches are being dug in Government offices, NGO offices and internally displaced peoples’ camps in Kilinochchi to mitigate the damage of aerial bombing,” WFP said.

“[In Vanni] there is a severe shortage of food, water and medical supplies/equipment in hospitals. Fuel is in short supply and sold at 400% its normal price. Pipe borne water is available only for 4 hours per day.”

“Restrictions on the import of fuel into the Vanni and Jaffna and the lack of cash availability inside the Vanni and Jaffna are continuing.”

40,000 other Tamils are displaced in the northern Jaffna peninsula.

"Overall the number of internally displaced has risen to 204, 000 persons in both LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) controlled and government controlled areas including many persons whom WFP must feed from declining levels of available food stocks.”

“Supply of commodities to the districts affected by the recent conflict and security situations is not moving as desired,” the WFP said.

WFP's Country Director in Sri Lanka Jeff Taft-Dick was quoted in press reports as saying that, “without better access, WFP will not be able to continue feeding displaced persons living in the areas outside of government control.”

The Sunday Leader newspaper reported Sunday that Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Ministry, officially tasked with addressing the humanitarian crisis has not done so, despite the urging of the international community due to restrictions on movements [of aid and aid workers] imposed by the Defence Ministry.


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