Feature Article

Humanitarian situation worsens in Vaharai

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 December 2006, 13:30 GMT]
More than 20 000 civilians continue to stay in temporary refugee camps at schools and surrounding houses in villages Kathiraveli, Vammivedduvan and Palchenai in Vaharai region amid acute shortage of food and humanitarian supplies, a local NGO official told TamilNet. Many families from Vaharai were forced to leave behind their grandparents who were unable to walk long distances.

The International Community has been increasingly criticized by the Tamils for maintaining silence, and for directly or indirectly supporting Sri Lanka's military strategy of forced eviction of Tamils from Vaharai region.

Sri Lanka Army, from Kajuwatte camp fired artillery shells towards Kathiraveli Monday at 9:05 p.m. 7 civilian houses were damaged.

5 SLA soldiers were wounded when LTTE fired in retaliation on the Kajuwatte SLA camp. The injured troopers, S.M.Kumarasiri, 42, K Wijesinghe, 33, M Rajakaruna, 36, M.K.Herath, 26 and S.L. Kumaradasa, 31, have been admitted to the Polonnaruwa hospital, sources from SLA Valaichenai Brigade Head Quarters sources said.

Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation official, S. Moorthy said elderly persons, left behind in schools and Vaharai hospital, need caretakers.

TRO has appointed 2 volunteers to look after 40 elderly persons at Vaharai hospital. They needed a safe location outside the hospital as the hospital administration, with only a single doctor and a few staff, had limited resources at the hospital.

The TRO, in a statement issued on Monday said pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, small children and babies were undergoing difficulties of unprecedented nature due to a lack of adequate food, medicine, and shelter.

Rev. Fr. M.X.Karunaratnam, the Chairperson of the North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR), in an urgent letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations Monday said, NESoHR, as the only indigenous Human Rights agency, urged the international community, Human Rights activists and humanitarian agencies to exert their "full strength and force to halt the human tragedy in Vaharai and the forced evacuation of Tamils from their home land."

"Justification of Sri Lankan government's deliberate military attacks on innocent Tamil civilians at Vaharai by stating that Sri Lankan military is targeting them only in retaliation, cannot be justified by any norms of humanitarianism," Fr. Karunaratnam said in his letter to U.N. Secretary General.

NESoHR Chairman in an attached report to the letter said that the International community and humanitarian agencies were caught up in the politics of Sri Lankan state, instead of giving protection to the Tamil people in their own land at Vaharai.

"Forcing the Vaharai people to evacuate their homes leaving their properties and land behind in the hands of the brutal Sri Lanka military and thereby locking them inside the roofless prison of Army controlled areas of Batticaloa and Trincomalle region as they did to the Tamils in Jaffna in 1996."

Tamils increasingly viewed the promises of the international communities and agencies, not only illusory but also as a dangerous trap for the Tamil people, according to NESoHR chairman.

Meanwhile, the Liberation Tigers officials said the Tigers had repeatedly urged through the ICRC and other International agencies to designate the Vaharai hospital and identified non-combatant settlements of the Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Eachilampattu, Kathiraveli and Vaharai villages, as safe-haven.

LTTE's Trincomalee Political Head S. Elilan, Director of LTTE's Peace Secretariat S. Puleedevan, and M Thiagaraja, Director of the Liaison office of UN and international agencies had met ICRC officials in various occasions and discussed the possibility of setting up a safe-haven, Mr. Ilanthirayan told TamilNet Monday.

However, the move was scuttled as Colombo was not willing cooperate with the humanitarian agencies.


Chronology:
15.01.07  Unfolding misery
11.01.07  Vaharai tragedy
07.01.07  SOS from Vaharai


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12.12.06   SLAF kfirs drop eight bombs on civilian settlements in Batti..
08.12.06   SLA denies transport to critical Vaharai patients
05.12.06   One Vaharai IDP dead, another critical

 

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