Operation USA: GoSL ‘blocking aid’ to Jaffna, Vaharai
[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 November 2006, 05:27 GMT]
Operation USA, a large American NGO, says it is “collecting funds and pushing the US Government and the UN to take firm action to help re-open humanitarian corridors” in Sri Lanka. Demanding access to internally displaced people (IDPs), the NGO said “a contributing factor to the current tension between the Sinhalese and Tamils is the inequitable distribution of tsunami relief aid by the Government of Sri Lanka.”
“There is an immediate need for food, nutritional supplements, medication, relief supplies, and funds to support the growing refugee population in the NorthEast,” Operation USA said.
“Despite our advocacy efforts … this aid is not reaching the refugees. This is because the Government of Sri Lanka is not allowing humanitarian access to affected regions,” the NGO said.
“At present, 600,000 people in the Jaffna peninsula do not have access to food and medication due to the closure of a key access road.”
“43,000 civilians (9,000 families) from the tsunami-affected regions of Muttur, Sampur, Eechalampattai, and Trincomalee Districts are currently in Vaharai, with minimal access to the region for humanitarian relief.”
Operation USA cited wider discrimination against Tamils by the Sri Lankan government.
“A recent survey found that in the predominately Sinhalese south, 75% of temporary shelters have been dismantled and the families moved into permanent housing,” the NGO said.
“In contrast, only 25 % of the population in the Northeast have been relocated to permanent housing, leaving 77% in deteriorating temporary shelters,”
Operation USA last week appealed for people to come forward with “medical supplies or nutritional supplements, are interested in sponsoring children in our Schools and Orphanage program, or are looking for ways to assist the tsunami-affected populations in Sri Lanka who have also recently been displaced by political violence.”
It demanded access “enabling our partners on the ground to provide goods and services to the affected IDP and to ensure the safety of tsunami development programs.”