Vanni IDPs starving due to acute shortage of food
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 March 2009, 05:04 GMT]
The plight of people herded into the narrow strip of ‘safe zone’ assigned by the Sri Lanka government is growing worse with each day as vegetables, food items, milk powder for babies have become so scarce that they are starving, TamilNet correspondent reported Tuesday from Vanni. Liquid cash is not available as many are unable to withdraw from their savings in the banks, most of them gone out of function due to continuing indiscriminate attacks by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) artillery barrage and Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) bombings.
Whatever meager food items left are being sold at exorbitant prices: a kg of flour at Rs. 200, rice between Rs. 200 – 250 per kg (Rs. 32 in normal times in Vanni), dry red chili Rs. 3,000 per kg (Rs. 120 earlier), tamarind Rs. 3,000 per kg (60 rupees earlier) and a coconut at Rs. 150.
Though the area is on the coast, a kg of fish costs Rs. 1,200, a price that is out of reach for the most.
The fish that is caught is sold as soon as it is brought to the shore sending back many of the buyers empty-handed.
Persons who risk their lives amidst shelling and bombings to pluck young coconuts from the farms are selling them along the streets to people who lack drinking water, at a high price.
Anchor Milk Powder (for babies) was provided to some of the families and a few have managed to buy from others at Rs. 1,000 per kg.
Desperate parents are donating blood to the makeshift hospital in the area which gives a packet of milk powder for each donor.
Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) and other NGO activists are providing gruel with leaves (ilaik-kagnchi) to the civilians at some locations.