Harsh measures imposed on Vanni displaced
[TamilNet, Thursday, 03 September 1998, 17:59 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government (SLG) announced today that dry rations for refugees in the Vanni would be provided only if there is proof that the slashed quota of supplies it sent for June and July have been fully distributed.
The SLG's Commissioner General of Essential Services (CGES) Mr.N Obadage stipulated that dry rations will henceforth be provided to only those displaced persons in the Vanni who are housed in refugee camps there. The majority of the Tamils who fled Jaffna in late 1995 and early 1996 to the Vanni live as with firends, relatives and acquaintences.
Mr. Obadage also announced today that all other diplaced persons currently living in those areas of the Vanni that are under the control of the Liberation Tigers will have to come over to a specified Sri Lankan Army controlled part of the Mannar district to receive releif provided by the Sri Lankan government.
He said that the SLGES will care for these diplaced persons until such time that it sends them back to their original places of residence in Jaffna. The SLG slashed the supply of dry rations to people displaced to the Vanni from Jaffna by 50 percent and to people displaced within the Vanni by 30 percent for the months of June and July.
As there was strong opposition to this decision from the displaced people in the Vanni, government officials in charge of relief and rehabilitation there refrained from distributing the reduced quotas of dry rations sent to them for the months of June and July.
"The government's decision means that either the refugees accept its stand or perish, particularly because the supply of dry rations for the month of August will depend on whether the Vanni refugees are going to toe the line or not" said a catholice priest who works in Mallavi.
More than three hundred civilians began a fast in front of the Mullaithivu secretariat yesterday to protest against what they claim to be the deliberate reduction of the dry ration quota to displaced persons in the Vanni by the SLG. The Bishops of Mannar and Jaffna saw them today and promised to take up the matter with the Sri Lankan President when they see her later this month.
Informed foreign NGO sources in the Vanni, however, said that this was an apparent move on the part of the government to deprive the Liberation Tigers of the only substantial population that remains under their control today.
"If the regulations announced today have their desired effect of compelling the exodus of a significant section of the refugee population out of the LTTE controlled areas of the Vanni, then the ability of the Tigers to sustain their military might would be debilitated, the SLA beleives. And this seems to be the ulterior intention of this decision" said an NGO official based in Vavuniya this afternoon.