Crisis looms as milk food prices soar in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Monday, 24 December 2007, 09:29 GMT]
A serious humanitarian crisis is developinging in Jaffna due to the acute shortage of infant milk food, and the resulting doubling of prices in black market. The high prices have made the essential commodity out of reach to many mothers with infants, consumer groups in Jaffna reported. The groups urged Government authorities to take urgent action to rectify the situation and protect the welfare of peninsula infants, especially those under 3 years of age.

The situation currently prevailing in Jaffna mirrors the critical situation that arose soon after clashes erupted between Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Aug11, 2006 resulting in the closure of A9 Highway, the only land route to the peninsula.

Refuting the claims by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL), civil society sources said that throughout the province there is no milk food items required for children under the age of three, while there is an overstock of milk food required by the children of ages above Five. This is due to mismanagement on the part of GOSL and the officials in charge of distribution of essential food items to the North, sources added.

Colombo has falsely created an impression of normalcy in the Jaffna peninsula, while the residents here are compelled to pay exorbitant prices for the essential food items, civil society sources in Jaffna said. The milk food for adults are currently sold in the black market at nearly 450 rupees which is more than double the normal price and even at this price they are very scarce, sources added.

Meanwhile, the Government agent of Jaffna announced Sunday that each family will be given one packet of milk food. However, the consumer groups have said that it will not meet even the basic needs of the children affected by shortage.

Until concerted and genuine effort is made to allow goods to flow freely into Jaffna peninsula, the prices are likely to stay high, consumer groups said.


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