TNA warns of 'imminent humanitarian disaster' in Vaharai
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 17:33 GMT]
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), condemning the Sri Lankan military's blockade of food and medicine going into the Vaharai area as "a blatant violation of all humanitarian laws", said Monday this action "is clearly an attempt to use food as a weapon of war, and compulsively evict persons from their areas of historical habitation." In an adjournment motion moved by its Parliamentary group leader, R. Sampanthan, MP, in the House, the TNA called on the government to "rush food medicine and other essentials to the families resident at Vakarai and Kadiravelli and thereby avert an imminent and grave humanitarian disaster."
The motion was seconded by Ariyanethran MP.
The full text of the motion follows:
20 November 2006
I move that the following matter of urgent public importance be discussed in Parliament at adjournment on Monday, 20th November; if not, on Tuesday, 21st November.
- Whereas around 12,000 Tamil families comprising around 38,000 persons, men women and children presently live in the Vakarai and Kathiravelli areas in the north of Batticaloa, bordering the Trincomalee District.
- And whereas around 3,500 of the aforesaid 12,000 families are permanent Tamil residents of the Vakarai Kadiravelli areas and the balance 8,500 Tamil families are Internally Displaced People from several villages in the south, southeast and southwest of the Trincomalee District. These Tamil people were displaced consequent to aerial bombing and heavy artillery shelling from both land and sea, in areas of Tamil civilian habitation in the said villages during the military confrontation between the almost exclusively Sinhala Armed Forces of the Sri Lanka Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) between the months of April and September 2006/
- And whereas the aforesaid IDPs abandoned all their personal belongings when they so fled and are in a state of penury and destitution.
- And whereas in the present situation, the said people have no occupation and no income whatever and in any event, do not have access to food medicine or other essentials.
- And whereas the only source of succour and survival that is available to these people, is the assistance provided by either government or by non-governmental organizations.
- And whereas in the past about three months much to the detriment and harm of the Tamil people, NGOs have been prevented by the government and the Armed Forces from working in these areas and being of assistance to these IDPs, thereby compelling these people to depend only upon the assistance made available through government.
- And whereas the supply of food, medicine and other essentials by government to these people has been scarce and irregular, and whereas these people, particularly women and children, have suffered much deprivation and undergone immense human suffering.
- And whereas food and essentials in some adequate quantity was last made available to these people by government on 20th October 2006, and thereafter there was a further meagre supply of food and essentials on 27th October 2006 sufficient only for a limited number of people.
- And whereas after 27th October 2006, there has not been any supply of food medicine or other essentials to these people.
- And whereas these people have during the past three weeks suffered much deprivation, starvation and undergone unbearable human suffering.
- And whereas at a meeting held with President Mahinda Rajapakse on 16th November 2006 also attended by the President’s Secretary and the President’s Principal Advisor, Members of Parliament of the Tamil National Alliance urged the President to immediately send food, medicine and other essentials to the people in the Vakarai and Kadiravelli areas. And whereas the said Members of Parliament were assured that food, medicines and other essentials would reach Vakarai and Kadiravelli by that very evening, the 16th of November 2006.
- And whereas though such supplies were not sent on the 16th, 10 lorry loads of goods were sent from the Batticaloa Kachcheri to Vakarai and Kadiravelli on the 17th of November 2006, and the same was accompanied by the Divisional Secretary for Vakarai and Kadiravelli.
- And whereas at a place called Navalladi – Cobra Bridge – some distance south of the Maankerni checkpoint the said lorries were stopped by the Armed Forces and directed to return to Batticaloa. And whereas one Brigadier Ratnayaka of the Armed Forces is said to have informed the Government Agent and the District Secretary Batticaloa that lorries should not be sent with goods towards Vakarai and Kadiravelli, and that the people living in those areas should be brought out of the said areas.
- And whereas this matter was raised in Parliament on the 18th of November 2006 and Ministers on behalf of the government intervened, contacted the Defence Secretary and others in the Military establishment and gave an assurance in Parliament that 8 lorries with goods would go to Vakarai and Kadiravelli on that very day the 18th, and that the Armed Forces would not prevent the lorries with such goods reaching Vakarai and Kadiravelli.
- And whereas 8 lorries with goods did leave the Batticaloa Kachcheri for Vakarai and Kadiravelli, accompanied by the Additional Government Agent for Batticaloa, the Divisional Secretary and Assistant Divisional Secretary for Vakarai and Kadiravelli, and also a representative of the ICRC Batticaloa.
- And whereas the said 8 lorries were once again stopped at the Maankerni checkpoint and not allowed to proceed to Vakarai and Kadiravelli.
- And whereas the 12,000 families in the Vakarai and Kadiravelli areas continue to suffer starvation and are facing malnutrition, disease and death by starvation.
- And whereas the aforesaid actions of the Armed Forces are clearly violative of the assurances given by the President and in Parliament on behalf of the government.
- And whereas the said actions also constitute a blatant violation of all humanitarian laws, and is clearly an attempt to use food as a weapon of war, and compulsively evict persons from their areas of historical habitation against their wishes.
- And whereas it is the duty of the government to immediately take all necessary action to ensure that the people in Vakarai and Kadiravelli are able to receive food medicine and other essentials and thereby avoid a grave humanitarian disaster.
We call upon the government to immediately take necessary action to rush food medicine and other essentials to the families resident at Vakarai and Kadiravelli and thereby avert an imminent and grave humanitarian disaster.
TNA Parliamentary Group Leader &
MP for Trincomalee District