150 Tamils die in refugee camps in the Vanni

Place: Vanni | Courtesy: British Refugee Council
| Date: 19970000

"Reports say 150 people died of disease in January and February in 16 refugee camps in the Pooneryn area of Vanni. Around 16,000 refugees from Jaffna live in these camps. Diseases are spreading rapidly as basic water and sanitary problemshave not been solved.

Over 400,000 Jaffna refugees face deteriorating conditions in LTTE-controlled Vanni. The government claims there are only 190,000 refugees and a committee appointed by Presidential Secretary K Balapatabendi to report on the refugees has not disclosed its findings after four months.

Dry rations for Vanni refugees were suspended from 1 January following a decision to end relief to areas where government’s poverty alleviation Samurthi programme was implemented. After the north-east Government Agents (GA) brought to the notice of the President that Samurthi was not being implemented in most of their areas, dry rations were resumed on 23 March.

Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Government Agents (GAs) say many schools are damaged and are full of refugees. Of the 91,000 students in the two districts 41,000 are displaced from Jaffna and over 1,000 teachers are urgently needed. In Vavuniya, 14,000 refugees from LTTE areas continue to suffer in 11 welfare centres under pathetic conditions. Vavuniya GA K Ganesh says some restrictions have been relaxed. Those over 60 years of age will be released to relatives or a permanent resident of Vavuniya. Some 5,000 others returned from Tamil Nadu are in Asikulam and Cheddikulam camps managed by international refugee agency UNHCR." (British Refugee Council Publication, Sri Lanka Monitor, March 1997)