Ki'linochchi facing imminent food crisis

[TamilNet, Friday, 28 March 2008, 13:24 GMT]
The food stock for emergency use in Ki’linochchi district has been completely exhausted due to difficulties in bringing in the required food items N.Vethanayagam, Government Agent (GA) said Thursday, when questioned about the imminent crisis in the region due to the worsening shortage of essential food items.

The representatives of the Multi Purpose co-operative societies (MPCS) have brought to the attention of GA that the stocks in the MPCS have dwindled to an all time low and a serious food crisis is looming, rapidly deteriorating towards a possible critical situation of hunger and famine," the GA said.

Speaking to the media, the GA provided the following chilling details that portrayed the extent of the impending humanitarian crisis in the district.

“There are 195,812 people residing in Ki'linochchi district and each month 2000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of food items are required for their use.

“Even though we are approaching the end of March, due to difficulty in getting permission for transporting the food items, we are unable to bring in the required quota for January as well as February through Omanthai check point, resulting in an unprecedented food crisis.

“The representatives of MPCS in the district have already made urgent appeal to me take immediate steps to bringing in the required supplies.

“To further compound and complicate the worsening crisis, relief supplies for more than 28,000 civilians displaced from various districts have not yet been released from the beginning of this year due to permission being denied for the transport of relief supplies into this district. As a result, the internally displaced people (IDPs) are also facing serious hardships, GA said.

The normal needs of the district per month (in Metric Tonnes) as provided by GA are detailed below

    Flour: 586
    Dhal: 195
    Sugar: 391
    Milk Powder: 176
    Soap: 107
    Biscuits for infants: 100
    Spices for normal use in our homes- Chilly, Corriander, Fennel: 100
    Coconut oil and all other types of oil normally used by the people: 78
    Biscuits: 58
    Chocolate: 30
    Bakery related products: 117
    Other Items: 234
“The local production has also declined considerably due to serious hurdles and obstacles placed in transporting fertilizers. In addition, the transport of fuel such as Petrol and Diesel has been completely banned and only kerosene oil is being supplied throughout the district, the GA added emphasizing the urgency of the rapidly unfolding crisis in the war – torn region.

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN ) affiliated Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), in its latest humanitarian situation report, said last week the Government Agent (GA) in Kilinochchi had reported that food supplies for February and March have not been transported to the area.

“There has been no approval from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to transport food items to reach the general public through the Omanthai Entry/Exit point into the Ki’linochchi District,” IASC said. According to the IASC report the Regional Director, Health Services (RDHS) in Ki’linochchi had also pointed out last week that no MoD authorization has been granted to transport the first quarter of essential drugs stored in Vavuniyaa.

At a recent meeting between the Security Forces-Wannni Commandant and GA in Vavuniyaa, it was agreed that empty lorries from Wanni to areas controlled by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) would be allowed through the Omanthai checkpoint on Saturdays.

Subsequently 71 lorries were allowed from the Wanni to move into areas controlled by GOSL.

According to the IASC, the procedures at the Omanthai entry/exit point remain tight for movement of civilian and humanitarian organizations.

It also notes that since February 4, access has been restricted to vehicles traveling from north of Madawaachchi check point, creating additional challenges for civilian travel across the Mannaar District.

The UN affiliated organization further says restrictive procedures at checkpoints on the A-14 Road, including Uyilangku’lam, continue to cause serious problems with the supply of essential items, and have also led to sky rocketing prices of the basic items and fuel shortage.


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