Imminent offensive "will trigger catastrophe"
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 27 October 1999, 15:56 GMT]
An imminent offensive by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in the Vanni will cause a "a massive displacement of tens of thousands of people with no shelter provisions whatever in the adjoining areas, triggering a major catastrophe," said the London based Tamil Information Centre in a press release today.
"The TIC learns that the Sri Lankan government Army is planning a major offensive in the Vanni, an area where over 457,000 people live under miserable conditions, 90% of whom are displaced people, including women, elderly and children," the statement said.
"The TIC further learns that thousands of Sri Lankan troops are being moved into the remote areas of Palampiddy, Keerisuddan and Irani Ilupaikulam with heavy military equipment and armaments," it said.
"A major military operation is imminent, which according to social workers will result in a serious crisis and the lives of refugees are at risk," the TIC added.
"Reports suggest ... torrential rain is causing enormous problems [and] ...the failure of the Yala crops due to the draught will make the situation even worse," the TIC said.
The TIC called upon international humanitarian agencies and donor governments involved in Sri Lanka to urgently devise an emergency-preparedness plan and "set in motion procedures that will ensure items including shelter and buffer stocks in the region to guarantee the food and medical security of the population and save lives".
The TIC said it wished to draw attention to the impending emergency in theVanni and called on "people and organisations concerned with peace, democracy, human rights and development in Sri Lanka to urge the government of Sri Lanka to stop any military offensive and seek a negotiated political solution to the ongoing conflict."
"The proposed offensive by the military will only contribute to hardening of attitudes and activities that will not help in creating an environment conducive for peace talks," the TIC said.