Aid agencies fear for Batticaloa displaced
[TamilNet, Monday, 14 May 2007, 14:57 GMT]
Aid agencies in Sri Lanka’s volatile eastern province say they are concerned
that over 140,000 Tamils displaced by earlier military offensives are being
forced to go back to their homes despite unsafe conditions there. However,
the Sri Lankan government insists it will continue with the resettlement.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme is warning that food supplies to
displaced people is running out.
"The humanitarian community fears that the lack of proper planning might put
returnees in a situation where safety and dignity are not ensured," a
committee of aid agencies including UN bodies, said in a statement on
But AFP quoted a Sri Lankan official as saying that the first batch of 4,000
people will be allowed to go back to their homes in the embattled eastern
Batticaloa district from Monday.
"We will have this process conducted over 11 days," the official told AFP,
adding that nearly 140,000 people displaced within the district will be
Military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe told Reuters: "We have
commenced resettlement in Batticaloa. They are to be resettled in areas
recaptured from the LTTE. "
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme warned last week that food supplies to
displaced people in the east are under threat of breaking down within a few
"Without new contributions, WFP beneficiaries will suffer breaks in all food
commodities by early June 2007," the WFP latest operational report said on
"We are satisfied with the short term assistance given by donors, but we
have concerns over long term commitments, and we need both to look after the
IDP’s," WFP country head Jeff Taft Dick said.
WFP says that it needs 1500 metric tons of supplies to look after the
monthly needs of 100,000 IDP’s in Batticaloa, consisting of 600 tons of
rice, 600 tons of wheat flour, 180 tons of dhal and 60 tons each of sugar
and cooking oil.
In March, WFP warned of a break in pipeline by end of April.
Donors including Japan, the US and the UN Central Emergency Fund pledged
funds to meet the added burden, but the commitments have secured the supply
lines till June, The Morning Leader newspaper reported last week.
However, the WFP report said that it has been compelled to cut down on
existing food programmes to meet the needs of the IDPs.
"Due to pipeline constraints, WFP has had to reprioritise resources from
other geographical areas and partially suspend some recovery programmes,"
the report said.
There are at least 140,000 IDP’s remaining in the Batticaloa district and an
additional 150,000 scattered in the north east, The Morning Leader reported.
The WFP needs US $ 1 million to look after the weekly needs of all IDPs in
the island which it says numbers close to 400,000, the paper also said.