Transport restriction hits villagers
[TamilNet, Sunday, 03 October 1999, 11:15 GMT]
(News Feature) More than twenty thousand people in the coastal areas north of Mannar are facing starvation due to Sri Lanka Army (SLA) restrictions on food and medicine and transport to this area according to refugees from Vidaththalthivu who arrived on Thursday (September 30) in Pallimunai near Mannar town.
They told TamilNet that the prices of goods have sky rocketed in this region comprising the villages of Vellankulam, Moonraam Piddi, Iluppaikkadavai, Thevan Piddi, Naachchikudah, and Iranaithivu. Food stuff and essentials have become extremely scarce they said.
A measure of rice costs more than Rs. 75 (market price Rs.35), a packet of milk powder is Rs.200 (market price Rs.80), a kilo of sugar is Rs.50 (market price Rs.30) a cake of soap Rs. 50 (market price Rs. 5 ) and a Panadol (Paracetamol) tablet is Rs. 5 rupees (market price Rs. 1) in the coastal villages north of Mannar when they are available according to the refugees. They said that these goods are scarce even at such high prices.
Meanwhile, according to Mannar District Health Officer Dr.M.Kathirgamanathan, 400 pregnant women, 300 infants and more than 2000 children under five are affected by severe malnutrition in this region due to the food shortages.
He said his staff is awaiting the army’s permission for working in the northern coastal parts of the district.
There are 3487 refugee families in this region displaced by the SLA’s Rana Gossa Operation this year who are dependent on dry rations sent once a month from Vavuniya for their survival. But this supply which has to be escorted by the ICRC is not very regular and as half of the dry rations permitted for the refugees has to be purchased locally, there is a severe shortage of essentials said the people who arrived at Pallimunai on Thursday.
The President of the Mannar Traders' Association, Mr. Lloyd Jeyaseelan recently met MP for Vanni and Deputy Minister for Provincial Councils and Local Government Mr. M. Sumathipala to urge him (the minister) to take steps to alleviate the sufferings of the civilians in the northern coastal parts of the Mannar district due to the SLA closing up all routes to the region.
Following the meeting the minister wrote to the commanding officer of the 21-2 brigade in Mannar, Col.Rohan Jayasigha seeking his views on opening a route for supplies to the affected areas.