"Colombo's embargo targets schoolchildren"- official

[TamilNet, Saturday, 14 July 2001, 19:09 GMT]
More than a thousand students in a Vanni school were found to be suffering from malnutrition, an official in the department of education in the northern region said Saturday. He said many students in the Vallipunam high school were also diagnosed for acute malnutrition.

vanni_displacedboy.jpgThe official attributed the high incidence of malnutrition to economic deprivation caused by the Sri Lankan government's harsh decade long economic embargo on the Vanni region and to the fact that hundred children in the school have lost either or both parents due to the war.

Meanwhile, 15 persons, mostly children, were treated for anemia last month at the rural hospital in Puthukkudiyiruppu in the Mullaithivu district in the Vanni, medical sources said.

Of the 1160 children suffering from malnutrition at the Vallipunam School, 590 are girls and 570 are boys. Fifty students in the school lost both parents due to the war, including bombing of their villages by the Sri Lanka Air Force, 29 lost their mothers and 21 their fathers.

"The condition of the Vallipunam school children is a fair reflection of the situation in all the schools in the Vanni region. Teachers frequently report children who faint in class due to hunger and exhaustion. Many of them come to school on an empty stomach. Malnutrition is particularly acute among girls because traditionally the females share the greater burden when the family has to tighten the belt. The embargo has made everything scarce, including exercise books, textbooks, pencils etc., We have been reporting the matter regularly to the government, but to no avail. It should at least spare the school children from the embargo on the Vanni," an Education Department official in Vavuniya told Tamilnet.

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