2ND LEAD (CORRECTION)

Newborn babies bereft of milk, humanitarian situation worsens in Vanni

[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 February 2009, 02:13 GMT]
Due to acute malnutrition and continued blockade of food thousands of mothers of newborn babies have gone barren to feed babies in besieged Mullaiththeevu. The substitute of powdered milk is also not available, seriously affecting thousands of babies reports TamilNet correspondent from Vanni.

Pregnant women are at highest risk of serious complications from infectious diseases under the prevailing condition.

Even a single Panadol tablet is not available in makeshift pharmacy shops. Couble of tables that cost 3 rupees earlier are sold at 30 rupees now. "People are coughing. Many of them are infected with viral infections including chicken pox."

Very high rate of infectious diseases are found among children, including respiratory diseases and diarrhea, medical sources at Maaththa'lan makeshift hospital said adding that many injured civilians have been suffering without antibiotics treatment.

Patients with chronic diseases are hard time. Their deaths, caused by the blockade of medicines by the Government of Sri Lanka, is increasing. Especially, diabetes patients are dying without medicines and are exposed to tragic conditions even with minor injuries.

Lack of potable water is a major problem in the 'safety zone'.

The new 'safety zone' declared by Colombo, limited to 12 km, a small stretch of land along the lagoon and the sea coast, north of Mullaiththeevu, is nothing but an assembling ground where a population of around 200,000 - 250,000 civilians remaining in Vanni have been herded into, congesting the barren land beyond further accommodation. Civilians were struggling to cope with their camp life inside 10-feet long huts covered by tarpaulin sheets and the bunkers where they seek shelter during the artillery attacks.

Vegetables are not available.

Food supplies are allowed in the last few shipments only in small amounts. On Wednesday, 17 metric ton of flour arrived. The local co-operative society authorities had to limit the supplies to 17,000 families, supplying 1 kg flour, 50 grams of sugar and 50 grams of dhal per family. Families with five or more members were prioritised. People were struggling in long queues. There were females who fainted.

A week ago, when the first shipment came, a child died in an overcrowded queue when people assembled to obtain food supplies.


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