Sri Lanka uses food and medicine as weapons of war

Place: Tamil Eelam | Date: 19960600

"JAFFNA hospital Director Mrs N Kanagaratnam says that health facilities must be upgraded urgently in all areas of the peninsula to prevent diseases such as malaria, typhoid and diarrhoea. Damage to the Jaffna hospital has been estimated at over Rs 50 million ($1 million). The hospital lacks medicines. There are no surgeons and major surgeries are still conducted at Palaly military base. Only around 650 of the 1,200 employees of the hospital have returned to work.

The Manthikai hospital in Point Pedro has only seven doctors and has not received any medicine since April... Foreign and local journalists on their visit to Jaffna on 18 June found many people wandering in search of food. Thenmaratchy residents complain they have to walk several miles to Jaffna to buy food. They are delayed at military checkpoints which open only at 7.30am, for several hours and arrive in Jaffna too late to receive any food supplies... Government Agents say they are prohibited by Colombo from providing any assistance to the 60,000 refugees who fled to the Vanni after Operation Sunray II in April.

"Around 2,000 families in welfare centres are facing starvation according to Kilinochchi GA Thillai Nadarajah. Mullaitivu GA R Tharmakulasingham has appealed to NGOs for help. But NGOs say the government has the responsibility to feed the people. Tamil MP M Chandrakumar accuses the government of failing to provide drought relief to the Vanni districts. Since January at least Rs 250 million ($5 million) worth food was needed, but only food worth Rs 160 million was supplied... Dengue fever has claimed the lives of ten people in Amparai District. Reports say dengue which earlier killed 35 people in Batticaloa District is fast spreading in Amparai and hundreds of people have sought treatment in hospitals. Health workers say sufficient Malathion preventive spray to eradicate disease-carrying mosquitoes is not available. (Sri Lanka Monitor, British Refugee Council Publication, June 1996)