Displaced cry as polls campaigning begins in north

Place: Jaffna | Courtesy: Sunday Leader
| Date: 20000904

As Tamil political parties kicked off their election campaign in Jaffna and addressed gatherings surrounded by battalions of armed youth, some 47,000 families from the Then-amaratchchi area, displaced as a result of the ongoing war, lay hungry and tired, praying for relief measures to be provided.

A children's playground at Manipay lay quiet in the glaring sunlight. Instead of the familiar sounds of the creaking of swings or the smooth 'swish' of a child sliding down a mats-slide the playground lay still as lines of washing swung in the hot sultry air and makeshift swings hushed little infants to sleep. Cooking untensils lay scattered as families who had lost almost all their worldy possessions tried to pick up the shattered ends of their lives and make a new beginning.

Since March 26, this year, due to massive displacement of families, large numbers of persons have been reduced to a state of poverty. In the Then-amaratchchi division alone, 77% of the total population is displaced to the Vadamaratchchi and Valikamam areas. Some 4,500 families continue to live in refugee camps while the others have found accommodation in abandoned or vacant lots and in the homes of friends and relatives.

The government is responsible for the distribution of food to these areas. However, the system was disrupted in May this year after heavy fighting broke out between the security forces and the LTTE. As a result, most of the people who got displaced from Thenamaratchchi could not get their dry rations for the month of May.

Medical facilities too are not available in areas under the control of the Tigers, while most of the time civilians are forced to take shelter in underground bunkers due to periodic shelling and bombing. The injured are removed to Mallavi hospital but this hospital, situated in the Vanni, is struggling due to a severe shortage of drugs and other necessary medical facilities.

An impact evaluation of the relief work carried out during the last two months has not improved the situation. A lack of com-mittment, lack of effective coordination, lack of dedication among most of the government servants plus a distorted presentation of the true situation and a lack of funds are all contributory factors to the sorry situation of the families who have been displaced.

With the assistance of HUDEC, (Human Development Center) a humanitarian organization and the Holy Cross sisters who run a mobile clinic for the displaced, certain relief measures have been enacted. There is a milk food nutritional programme for some 2007 school going children. A shelter programme is also another component of the relief activity.

At Suthumalay, Mani-pay, a housing scheme has been opened for 30 families who are charged a rental of Rs. 6,500/=.Another housing scheme is underway to help house 30 families at Annaikoddai. Nine latrines have been provided for people living in the camps and in the housing scheme.

Courtesy : Sunday Leader