TNA urges IC to ensure Sri Lankan forces do not bomb besieged civilians

[TamilNet, Monday, 09 March 2009, 06:24 GMT]
The leaders of four major Tamil parties, the ITAK, ACTC, EPRLF and TELO comprising Tamil National Alliance (TNA), on behalf of the 22 elected parliamentarians from North and East, sent an appeal to the International Community urging it to ensure an immediate cessation of the war and ensure that adequate medical supplies, food and shelter be sent to the 333,000 civilians inside the area under siege by the Sri Lankan military. "The civilians are merely asking, that the SriLankan armed forces do not bomb them, and that the government permits adequate food, medicine and shelter into the area." Since the beginning of this year, more than 2150 civilians have been killed inside the so-called ‘safe zones’ by bombing campaigns carried out by the Sri Lankan armed forces and over 5000 are wounded, the TNA appeal said.

The TNA also urged the IC to urge permission be given for the UN and other humanitarian organisations to function in the area and to allow independent media into the affected areas to report the situation.

Full text of the appeal by the TNA follows:

Appeal to the International Community

9th March 2009
Your Excellency,

Four Tamil political parties in Srilanka, formed an alliance to contest the parliamentary elections in 2004 under the name of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi.Out of the 23 Tamil members of Parliament elected to represent the Tamil areas in the north-east 22 members belongs to our party. This alliance is popularly called the Tamil National Alliance.

We thank you for the concerns that you have expressed regarding the Tamil civilian population living in the Vanni region. We wish to bring to your urgent attention important matters that we feel are fundamental to understanding the grave situation facing the Tamil people.

  • Currently there are around 330,000 internally displaced Tamil civilians living in the said Vanni area. These civilians have faced multiple displacements, between 10 to 15 times, over the last two years.

  • Since the government of Sri Lanka announced areas that it would consider ‘safe zones’, the civilians moved into these designated areas in the hope that they would be safe.

  • The fighting between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE’s military formations are said to be taking place on many fronts some distance away from the said government designated ‘safe zones’. Yet the Sri Lankan armed forces have been bombing the save zone areas by air and artillery fire killing on an average between 30 to 40 civilians on a daily basis and causing grave injuries to civilians many times more.

  • Despite a grave humanitarian crisis prevalent in these areas, the government has evicted all international humanitarian organizations and has since imposed restrictions tantamount to an embargo on food, medicine, shelter and other basic humanitarian items. No independent media is allowed by the government to report on the prevalent situation.

  • No functioning hospitals remain in the Vanni as government bombing campaigns have destroyed all. The only facility is the Matallan Temporary Hospital in Puthumattallan which has no proper medical facilities - no ICU; no electricity (except by generator, which is limited due to embargoes on fuel); no OPD facilities; no wards; and no operating room (only a makeshift one which is not sterile). There are gross shortages of antibiotics, IVs, anesthesia, blood and other medicines. Despite numerous requests by the few remaining medical officers in the Vanni, the government has failed to send the 4th quarter 2008 and 1st quarter 2009 quotas of medicine.

  • Diseases related to overcrowding, poor nutritional intake, a lack of sanitation and exposure to the elements are becoming prevalent. 4 Pregnant women have died recently as a result of complications which could have been easily treated had there been proper health facilities and medicine.

  • Over 75% of the Internally Displaced Persons do not have any form of toilet facilities. The government has banned all construction materials into the area since early 2007 and as a result building of temporary toilets has not been possible.

  • More than 60,000 families (240,000 individuals) are living in open areas with shelter made from tarpaulin. Due to the very hot weather conditions, staying in these shelters has become intolerable. The government has not allowed shelter materials into the area since late 2008.

  • Even though there are around 330,000 civilians in the relevant areas, the government insists that there are only about 70,000 civilians in the area. After approximately one month without any food delivery, the World Food Program (WFP) was only permitted to send a consignment on 26 February. Prior to this, the last consignment of food to be sent was on 19 January. Even on 26 February, only 40 metric tons of food was sent. According to the WFP the said amount is enough to feed only 30,000 people for one day and as a result the amount of food sent has not been sufficient to support the population for even one day. It should be noted that in the past twelve days over 18 people have died of starvation. Eight of the dead were children.

  • There is also a complete inadequacy of drinking water. Water Bowsers from Puthukuddirruppu are used for transporting water. This water is dangerous to collect due to continuous shelling and bombing of the area by the Sri Lankan armed forces. To compound matters, lack of fuel for the Bowsers and the water pumps is also hampering water collection and delivery. The situation regard to non drinking water (toilet, washing, cooking, etc) is that it is almost non-existent.

Since the beginning of this year alone, over 2150 civilians have been killed in these so-called ‘safe zones’ by bombing campaigns carried out by the Sri Lankan armed forces. Well over 5000 civilians have been gravely injured. The fact that the armed forces have been bombing these areas suggests that the civilians are being deliberately targeted. It is also our submission that the government’s failure to permit adequate food and medicine into these areas demonstrates that food and medicine are being used against the Tamil civilians as a weapon of war. The message the government there by to gives the Tamil civilians is that they would face death if they do not leave these areas.

The ground situation clearly suggests that the civilians are in a desperate condition. The civilians are merely asking, that the SriLankan armed forces do not bomb them, and that the government permits adequate food, medicine and shelter into the area. We must also express our fear that the continuance of the present situation will inevitably result before long in a grave human catastrophe,

In view of all of the above, we strongly submit that your good offices be used to:-

  1. Urgently bring about an immediate cessation of the war to save the Tamil civilian population from this grave human catastrophe.

  2. Ensure that immediate and adequate medical supplies food and shelter be sent to the said areas to sustain a population of around 330,000, so that the Tamil civilian population are not denied urgent humanitarian assistance.

  3. Urge that permission be given for the UN and other humanitarian organization to function in the said areas.

  4. Urge that the independent media be allowed into the affected areas to report on the true situation.

We strongly submit that the aforementioned steps be taken as a matter of utmost urgency to avoid a grave humanitarian catastrophe.

In anticipation of your urgent attention in this regard, we thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

Hon.R.Sampanthan MP.
ITAK-Parliament group leader.

Hon.Mavai.S.Senathirajah MP
General Secretary-ITAK

Hon.Suresh.K.Premachandran MP
Secretary General-EPRLF

Hon.Gagendrakumar Ponnampalam MP.
General Secretary –ACTC

Hon.Selvam Adaikalanathan MP.


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