Mined rice fields cause hunger -survey
[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 February 2002, 18:52 GMT]
In a survey conducted the North East Community Restoration and Development Project ( NECORD ) which is funded by the Asian Development Bank, it has been found that "the ban on fishing and mined agricultural lands within security zones in the northeast province have made it impossible for farmers and fishermen to pursue their occupations with a consequent deterioration in living conditions including vulnerability to hunger and disease".
"Many children do not attend school regularly due to both security and economic reasons. This is in spite of education being highly valued by most parents who show a willingness to make sacrifices for their children's education. Thousands of students in several districts in the northeast province have not been provided with desk and chair in classrooms. They sit on the ground or under the shade of trees which has adverse impact on teaching and learning process. Temporary sheds are being used as classrooms in several places," NECORD survey team has said in a report regarding education in the war-torn province.
Referring to the welfare centres in the province where thousands of internally displaced are housed, the NECORD team has said," in welfare centres there is high mortality for children as measles, diarrheal diseases, malaria, and malnutrition are difficult to control. Nutrition is a significant factor in the poor health profile. Nutrition survey shows that in Trincomalee district for example, 27 percent children under five were stunted, 26 percent percent were wasted, and 50 percent were under weight. Malnutrition is worst among the Tamils. These figures are significantly above national averages. In the crowded welfare camps water borne diseases such as typhoid, malaria and hepatitis are on the increase."
The NECORD team survey further reveals that "the risk of suicide, for both men and women made homeless by the war, is high as a result of feelings of frustration and a sense of helplessness. While the war has created refugees and internally displaced persons who are particularly vulnerable due to lack of basic needs, other people in the conflict affected zones are similarly affected since access to their sources of livelihood has decreased or has totally disappeared. The conflict has created marginalised and vulnerable groups in specific locations that need specialized assistance."
"Employment, which is seen as the highest priority by people in the welfare centres, is for many people irregular and difficult to obtain. There are a number of obstacles to obtaining work including the requirement for passes to go outside the camps which are more difficult for poor people to get. Other constraints are curfews, land mines, security restrictions, scarcity of materials, and difficulty of access. It is especially difficult for female headed households to gain access to resources that create conditions for employment opportunities", the survey report further states.