More refugees flee to Mannar Island

[TamilNet, Sunday, 11 July 1999, 20:04 GMT]
(News Feature) Hundreds of displaced villagers keep on fleeing the Vanni area, as there is no shelter, food and relief assistance, said sources in Mannar island. "Up to Friday more than 1700 villagers have crossed the Mannar lagoon to reach the ferry at Pallimunai in Mannar island", additional Government Agent for Mannar V.Visvalingam said.

A displaced family from the Vidaththalthivu at Pesaalai refugee camp.

Since June 30th, scores of fishing 'vallams' have left Thevanpiddy about 27 km. north of Pallimunai in the night with the displaced families to arrive in Mannar island.

These villagers are from Vidaththalthivu, Pallamadu, Kaddadivayal, Ooraai, and Moondraampiddy a government official who was in-charge of registering the displaced people arriving from the mainland at Pallimunai ferry said.

"We were displaced from our places through fear and sought refuge at St. James and St. Mary’s Churches in Vidaththalthivu. We were there for five days amidst the rains of artillery shells fired by the advancing SLA from the direction of Paappamoddai few miles south of Vidaththalthivu. The artillery shells exploded with thundering noise around our village" refugees who arrived at Pallimunai said.

"The LTTE came and told us to not to stay at Vidaththalthivu and leave for safer areas. They added that the army was firing artillery shells and that the army might capture the area," S.Kamalanathan a displaced refugee said.

Displaced people at Pesaalai refugee camp.
On the night of June 30 an artillery shell fell in the compound of St. Mary’s Church damaging the parapet wall and two houses nearby. Fifteen people were badly wounded and they were sent to Mualankaavil hospital with the assistance of the Parish Priest. With that we all left the church and sought refuge at Thevanpiddy a fishing village about 10 miles north of Vidaththalthivu. Many people went even further north," Kamalanathan further said.

"There was a big explosion while we were fast asleep. I got up shocked and saw six of my relatives including my mother were badly injured and bleeding", Sandanam Rosary (48) said.

"My mother and two others among the wounded died on Wednesday (July 7)", she added.

Convoy of Lorries at Cross Loading point at Paappamoddai on June 25, the day before the road was closed.

Government officials in Mannar said that the officials in the mainland had sent urgent messages to rush food and relief assistance for the displaced. They further said that there are more than 24,000 displaced refugees in the area.

"We tried to rush food to be distributed among the displaced via sea and that did not work out," S.M.Cruze the Government Agent in Mannar said.

Goods are being checked by the SLA at Paappamoddai on June 25.

With Phase II of Operation Rana Gosa-4 the road to the Vanni areas held by the LTTE was cut off and remains closed since June 26, sources said.

Due to this, the relief food supply and the supply of essential items to the Vanni along with the service of Ambulances and mail delivery have come to a standstill, they added.

K.Ganesh, the Government Agent in Vavuniya said that a second message regarding the modalities of opening the road to the Vanni from the security forces had been sent through the ICRC.

He revealed this after he had a brief meeting with the Army Chief of Staff and the Commander of Security Forces in the Vanni region on Friday.


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