Feature Article

Besieged Vaharai continues to starve

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 20 December 2006, 14:18 GMT]
More than 20 000 civilians in the Sri Lanka military besieged territory Vaharai are again forced to survive without humanitarian supplies. Children are again forced search for fruits and catch fish and crabs on their own to eat as main meal. Parents continue to suffer from psychological trauma witnessing the plight of their children.



International humanitarian organisations, including UN agencies and the ICRC, have been blocked from entering the region and provided very limited access to the region by Colombo despite repeated requests and pressure exerted both locally and internationally.

On 29 October, the International relief agencies managed to send a food convoy with two weeks supplies for 40 000 civilians in Vaharai.



In a statement, the following day, the UN office in Colombo said it hoped that further facilitation and access will be provided to distribute and monitor the supplies.

"UN in Sri Lanka reiterates its concern for all displaced persons in the Vaharai area and in particular for the health and nutritional status of children and pregnant women," the UN statement noted.

But, no more convoys were allowed into the region.

Sri Lanka Army launched artillery barrage and ground offensives from November 04 till November 10. Three offensives were repulsed by the Tigers.

Last Tuesday, on November 12, a UN statement issued from Colombo said:

"All fundamental rights are currently being breached in areas like Vaharai and villages in Trincomalee District and it is imperative that direct shelling where civilians reside stops and the civilian population must be granted full and unhindered freedom of movement, away from military operations."

The land route remaind closed by the Sri Lanka Army.

On 15 November, last Friday, three of seven boats with Vahari Internally Displaced Persons leaving from Vaharai to Valaichenai capsized.

UN office in Colombo, again issued an statement, now urging the LTTE to "facilitate and allow IDPs to leave the area," and urged the Sri Lankan Army "to grant and ensure safe passage."

The statements issued by the UN and International humanitarian agencies avoided focus on the possibility of designating a safe-haven for remaining refugees in Vaharai.

The UN statement said: "We call on all parties to comply with their obligations under International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, as expressed in the Security Council Resolutions on the Protection of Civilians and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement."



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.

Today, almost half of the IDP population has left Vaharai, leaving behind elderly persons and the civilians who wish to sustain their territory, because they are aware of a single fact that in the past, many Tamils were chased away from their traditional villages from time to time by the Sri Lankan military.

TNA parliamentarian for Trincomalee, K. Thurairatnam, in a recently told TamilNet:

"In Trincomalee, we have witnessed in the past that many Tamils were chased away from their traditional villages from time to time by Sri Lankan Armed Forces and Sinhala extremists, and none of the displaced were later allowed to return home."

"What we witness today is ethnic cleansing."



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


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