'Starvation poised for worse killings than shelling'

[TamilNet, Saturday, 18 April 2009, 17:42 GMT]
While around 60 civilians killed Friday and Saturday by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) shelling, civilians have already started dying and many more thousands are at the verge of death due to starvation that is silently taking its toll within the so-called safety zone, TamilNet correspondent reported Saturday. The imminent victims are elderly, children and women. "Gruel has become the staple food to keep soul and body together for a vast majority of the civilians for weeks now. If there is no instant action, more starvation casualties can be expected in the next few days than the hitherto known total of casualties caused by shelling," warns TamilNet correspondent citing health and administrative officials staying inside the so-called safety zone.

Meanwhile, listening to starvation-afflicted weak and instable voices of those who manage to make telephone calls, has become a regular experience in recent days for relatives and friends outside, diaspora sources told TamilNet.

Malnourished child
One and a half year old Vijayakanth Thesikan
Malnourished child
1-year-old Lingesvaran Kayalviliyan
Malnourished child
4-year-old Balakrishnan Logithan
Malnourished child
6-year-old Sivakumar Thamilanban at the children ward of the makeshift hospital on Friday
Malnourished child
Ranjan Prasanth, 2 and a half year old, at Puthumaaththa'lan hospital on Friday
Medical sources at the makeshift hospital said Friday there were 92 children in the children ward and most of the children are under nourished.

According to a request from the District Secretariat of Mullaiththeevu, received by the Country Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Colombo, only 1,000 MT of food supplies, only adequate for one week, were received by the local authorities within the so-called safety zone on 02 April. The request, made on 11 April said 74,634 families consisting of 305,219 persons has urged the WFP to send 3,578 MT of Dry Rations urgently in order to alleviate the hunger of the IDPs. The letter ended with the word, 'please', said a UN official in Colombo on condition of anonymity.

An earlier situation report, for the month of March, issued by the District Secretariat said that ships brought only 1079.902 MT of food items whereas the requirement was 4950 MT for the month of March.

TamilNet correspondent on Saturday said people were only eating once a day for the last 4 weeks and that there are people who have become completely dependent on gruel being supplied by the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO).

Some extracts from the situation report (March, 2009) of Mullaiththeevu District Secretariat follow:

"There is a severe shortage for Essential Food, Supplementary Food including Milk Food, Vegetables and Fruits items in the District. On one hand the essential food and other important food items are not available in the District and on the other hand the people do not have income / money to buy the items. Thus, the distribution of food is entirely depending on arrivals of ships and the quantity brought.

"The innocent people including children and women are in a pathetic condition. They are unable to get needed Milk Food, biscuits and any other important food and supplementary food items.

"A nutrition survey conducted by the Department of Health, Mullaitivu District in last week of March, 2009, indicates that 69.91 % of children were under weight and acute under nutrition is very much increased. The report requests for immediate intervention in supply of food."



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