War zone refugees arrive

[TamilNet, Sunday, 02 April 2000, 13:32 GMT]
More than five thousand Tamils in the Pallai and Pachchilaipalli areas in Jaffna arrived at Kilali late this morning, Catholic church sources in the north said. Most of the civilians were blocked at Kilali by the Sri Lanka army. Only about 200 families were allowed until noon to proceed beyond Kilali to Mirusuvil. The Catholic church is the only organisation assisting the people arriving from the war zone, according to the Tamilnet correspondent who was at Kilali and Mirusuvil today.

Following reports that thousands of people in the exodus from Pallai and Pachchilaipalli had been held up by the SLA at Kilali, the Vicar General of the Jaffna Diocese, Rev. J.P.E Selvarajah got in touch with the Sri Lankan Security Forces commander for Jaffna, Maj.Gen. Sarath Fonseka and obtained permission from him to bring everyone from Kilali to Mirusuvil.

The Tamilnet's Jaffna correspondent said that it was late in the afternoon around 4.15 p.m. when the Vicar General was able to rush to Kilali with the security forces commander's permission for the release of the civilians blocked by the army from proceeding to Mirusuvil.

The Tamilnet correspondent said that the condition of the refugees is very deplorable as there is no one to assist them except seven priests from the Jaffna Catholic Church who are already overworked. He said that their cassocks are splattered with blood and mud as many war wounded have also come in the exodus.

Meanwhile, the Chavakachcheri Divisional Secretary (DS), Mr.S. Sundarampillai declined to give cooked food for the refugees arriving in Mirusuvil from the war zone on the ground that he has to first get permission from the Jaffna Kachcheri to do so.

The refugee crisis could turn acute with the expected arrival of the thousands held up at Kilali later in the day Jaffna Catholic Church sources said. The situation could deteriorate further tomorrow because of the Divisional Secretary's refusal to provide cooked food and the inability or reluctance of the international aid agencies in Jaffna to visit the Mirusuvil area, said the Tamilnet correspondent.

 

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