Feature Article

Vaharai starves

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 10:43 GMT]
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers staffing Mankerny check post continuously refuse to allow food being taken to the Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Vaharai area creating urgent humanitarian crisis with severe shortage of food, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian P. Ariyanenthiran accused Tuesday. Four lorries with emergency food items had procured permission from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) permission, Mankerny SLA still denied permission to proceed to Vaharai saying that the area was under attack, Mr P. Ariyanenthiran said.

IDP in Vaharai area

The SLA had banned food items being taken into the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) held area from October 27, Batticloa Secretariat officials said.

P. Ariyanenthiran, who had rushed to Batticaloa to attend to the food transport issue said that the reason given by the Mankerny SLA staffers was a lame excuse meant to obstruct all relief assistance to the IDPs, and a strategy employed by the SLA to force IDPs out of Vaharai by refusing food and medicine reaching them.

"I ate nothing but a handful of rice mixed with water boiled with Murunga leaves today. I have nothing to eat for the next day and there is no one to give us food," said an elderly IDP lying exhausted under a tree.

A mother died at child birth Tuesday in Vaharai unable to be taken to Batticaloa hospital for emergency medical attention. Though the Batticaloa Government Agent (GA) had sent ambulances with the help of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) to bring 4 patients needing urgent treatment from Vahari, the Mankerny SLA had refused to allow the ambulances to Vaharai, Batticaloa hospital sources said.

According to Batticaloa Secretariat officials, the relatives of the Vaharai victims killed in the November 8 SLA artilery fire were to be paid 15,000/- rupees each as compensation but the Divisional secretaries and Grama sevaka officials were denied access to Vaharai area to make the payment.

"Even the ICRC are denied access at the Mankerny SLA check post to reach the Vaharai IDPs, one can imagine the fate of the IDPs trapped in Vaharai," a local volunteer said.

"Not only essentials like food and medicine but other needs including education are also systematically denied to the Vaharai IDPs," a school teacher said.

"Four of our teachers were seriously injured when the bus we were travelling in, arranged by the UNICEF, came into SLA mortar fire near Panichankerny bridge, the teacher said.

"From November 3, no teachers were allowed by the Mankerny SLA to travel to schools in Vaharai. Teachers and education officials assigned to conduct the 5th form scholarship tests on November 4 in the Vaharai schools were denied access to the schools." the teacher said.

More than 40,000 IDPs from Trincomalee district have sought refuge in the besieged Koralai Pattu North (Vaharai) Divisional Secretariat division in the LTTE controlled Batticaloa district.


42 were killed and 125 injured on November 8 when SLA launched Multi-Barrel rocket shells fell on Kathiraveli Vigneswara Vidyalayam and its environs where the IDPs were temporarily sheltered.

The IDPs have begun to move out of Vaharai as the SLA keeps on shelling their temporary shelters beside blocking all food and other essentials meant for them, civil society sources in Batticaloa said.

According to Batticaloa G.A's office, out of the 67000 inhabitants living in Vaharai in the latter part of October, only 9000 families consisting of 35000 members remain in Vaharai at present.

Even though the Non-governmental Organizations are ready to provide the Vaharai IDPs food and other necessary goods, the Government of Sri Lanka neither gives relief material nor allows the NGOs to take essentials there. Only Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) provides the needed relief, people of the area said.

15.11.06  Vaharai starves


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