SLA forces exodus of Tamils in Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Monday, 12 March 2007, 01:34 GMT]
More than 100,000 people have moved out of Liberation Tigers controlled areas of Batticaloa district to the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) controlled areas as Sri Lankan armed forces continued shelling for the third consecutive day in their attempt to force evacuation of large section of Tamil population with the military agenda to capture additional territory, officials providing relief assistance said Sunday.

The heavy non-stop shelling of the SLA stationed at 23-3 Brigade Head Office, Batticaloa, Vavunathivu, Chenkalady, Valaichchenai Paper Factory and Morakkoddanchenai Army Camps for the third consecutive day on populated areas, forcing a heavy exodus of civilans from those areas, civil society sources said.

More than 20,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) from Manmunai South West (Paddippalai) Division, another 20,000 from Manmunai West (Vavunathivu) Division, 15,000 from LTTE controlled part of the Eravur Pattu (Chenkalady) Division and 15,000 from Koralai West (Kiran) Division have arrived to the Military controlled part so far and are housed in 65 Welfare Centers.

Even though, the people living in Porathivu Pattu (Vellavely) Division too were displaced the numbers is yet to be publisned, according to relief workers.

There are 145,619 individuals belonging to 32,565 families living in the LTTE controlled Batticaloa district, according to district statistical data.

With nearly 80,000 IDPs from Vaharai and neighboring Trincomalee district, relief workers are facing difficulties finding temporary shelters for the new IDPs, civil sources said.

Some new arrivals are staying in open grounds and under the shade of trees. Although the authorities and relief workers are making valiant effort to provide the IDP food, water, sanitation, and other basic facilities, IDPs complain of shortages, relief workers said.

Authorities are planning to send some of the IDPs from Vaharai and from Muttur east areas back to their homes, many against their wishes, to alleviate the shortage of welfare spaces, informed sources said. 35 buses will take the IDPs for "resettlement" to the Vaharai, Muttur east areas, according to district officials.

Previously, 12,874 families were displaced from 30 Village Service Officer divisions in Muttur in August. 65% of the families have been resettled so far. Around 2,500 IDP families from the Village Service Officer divisions of Mallihaiththivu, Periyaveli, Paddiththidal, Kiliveddy, Menkamam, Parathipuram, Kanduvely, Iruthayapuram and Palaththadichchenai are expected to be taken to Muttur Monday from Batticaloa.

They will be provided with dry rations for one week, authorities said.

2,053 IDP families from Muttur stay in other districts, 900 families in Batticaloa.

The SLA has not so far given permission to resettle the Tamil people in the Village Service Officer divisions of Nallur, Kooniththivu, Navaretnapuram, Paddalipuram, Sampoor West, Sampoor East, Kaddaiparichchan South and Kaddaiparichchan East.

Meanwhile, all the gateways to the LTTE controlled areas in Batticaloa district- Paddiruppu, Vavunathivu, Chenkalady Black and Kiran bridges and Kurumanvely, Ampilanthurai, Manmunai ferries- are closed by the SLA.

Only the displaced arriving into Government controlled areas are allowed out of the check points, according to civil society sources in Batticaloa.

In the meantime, the SLA cut off the connections of all the mobile and wireless telephones on Thursday night.

Uncertainty of shelling, violence, rampant forced recruitment of youths by SLA-backed paramilitaries have plunged the civilian population of Batticaloa dstrict into a state of despair. Severing communication has further isolated the Batticaloa district from other areas, civil society sources said.


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