2ND LEAD (Correction)
SOS from Vaharai
[TamilNet, Sunday, 07 January 2007, 13:49 GMT]
Tamils Rehabilitation Organization, in an urgent press release has said that 15,000 Internally Displaced Persons, denied food by the Sri Lanka Army obstruction of the transport of food to Vaharai, are on the verge of death due to starvation.
The TRO, besides sending an urgent request to the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the ICRC to send food, medicine and other essentials to the IDPs, also urged that the area around Vaharai hospital to be declared as a 'Safe Zone' free from aerial bombings and shelling by the GoSL armed forces.
The following is the text of the TRO press release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4 January 2007 Vaharai starves - International Community is Silent
“We only have enough food for one or two more days,” said TRO Vaharai Director of Operations Mr. Moorthy in a telephone message from Vaharai. “The people are suffering and there is nothing that we can do due to the SLA embargo on food and medicine.”
The GoSL has not allowed any convoys of food or medicine into the Vaharai area since November 29th 2006. On that date the UN and ICRC facilitated the transportation of 2 weeks worth of food for the 40,000 IDPs in the area. (UN Press Release of Nov. 30). These supplies have now been exhausted.
There are currently 15,000 IDPs in the Vaharai area that TRO is caring for (UN website with IDP stats):
- 2,300 families (10,350 persons) in the immediate vicinity of Vaharai (Pictures)
- 900 families (4,050 persons) in the Eachchilampattu area
TRO appeals to the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government Agent (GA), the ICRC, the UN and the international community to urgently send food and medicine to these IDPs and not to allow food and medicine to be used as a weapon of war.
It is the responsibility of the GoSL and the international community to ensure that these civilians are not made to suffer due to a lack of food, medicine or the threat of bombing or shelling.
TRO calls on the GoSL and the ICRC to declare the area in and around Vaharai Hospital to be a “Zone of Peace” or “Safe Zone”.
A humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in Vaharai and the international community should not remain silent any longer.