Mass protest in Vanni -GA

Place: Vanni | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 19990723

At least eight seriously ill people in the Vanni have died as they had been unable to travel to hospitals in the south, due to the closure of the access route to the region, according to K.Ganesh, the Government Agent in Vavuniya. At least three thousand travellers who had come to Mannar and Vavuniya for various purposes and stranded are undergoing severe hardship without money and spare clothes to wear, the GA said.

Ganesh raised these points in a lengthy letter addressed to the Commissioner General of Essential Services (CGES) in Colombo and the Governor of North East Province, which highlights the worsening situation in the Vanni region.

Apart from his role as the Government Agent of Vavuniya, Ganesh is also the officer in charge of co-ordinating the supply of essential items of food and medicine to the Vanni.

Here is the full text of the letter:

The route to the uncleared areas remain closed since 26.06.1999. This has caused acute shortage of food items in the uncleared area and inflation of prices of the essential food items and kerosene oil. The Govt. Agents of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi have informed me through ICRC about the critical situation in their Districts.

Estimated population in the areas not held by the government is 376,365 as at 31.03.1999 according to the reports sent by the Government Agents of Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu. The population figures as at 30.06.1999 has not been received due to lack of communication.

Out of the total 376,365 population, 297,797 are displaced according to the statistics of the government agents of Mannar, Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi.

For five months from March to July 1999 a total of 600 lorry loads of food items were required by the Commissioner General of Essential Services (CGES), where as 358 lorry loads have been sent so far. While the Multi Purpose Co-operative Societies in the Vanni required 1084 lorry loads of essential items, only 176 lorry loads have been sent during the above period. Totally 1266 lorry loads have been calculated as shortfall.

This has resulted inflation of prices of the essential items in the area. It has been reported that a kilo of sugar is sold at Rs.100/= (Normal price is Rs.28/-) and a bottle of kerosene is sold at Rs.150/= (Normal price is Rs.13/- a litre)

According to the reports received from the Govt Agent, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi, the situation is very grave. The Hospital and SLRCS ambulances which transported serious patients to Vavuniya did not operate after 25.06.2999. This has resulted in deaths. The names of patients who died are as follows:

Thevan, 65 yrs from Adampan. Died of food poisoning Sathes, 9 yrs. Heart patient. Mathyaparanam of Mallavi ˆ died due to Diabetic and blood pressure. Another child from Mallavi is reported to be seriously ill.

In addition, Govt Agent, Kilinochchi has reported through OXFAM today(On July 20) that 04 serious patients have died without ambulance services to Vavuniya and there are a number of serious patients on roll awaiting transfer to Vavuniya Base Hospital.

Transport of mails

Transport of mails to uncleared area and from uncleared area is badly affected. Chief Post Master Vavuniya informs that about 250 mail bags are accommodated at the Post Office meant for Wanni uncleared area. Similarly the mails from the uncleared area also have not been brought to the cleared area. Besides, due to breakdown in the mail service, the payment of pension and salary to public servants are also affected.

Stranded passengers to Wanni

Approximately 3000 persons who came from Wanni for various purposes are unable to return. They are undergoing severe hardship as they have no place to stay. They have exhausted the money they had. Beside, they have no cloths. They are also very much worried about their family members in the uncleared area.

Medical Supplies:

The medical supplies to the uncleared area is also affected as the drugs for the 3rd quarter had not been sent yet. A copy of the report received today from the MSF [Holland] Country Manager, operating in the Wanni uncleared area is attached herewith this report explains the critical situation regarding shortage of drugs and serious patients who have to be transported to Vavuniya.

Conduct of GCE [A/L] Examination and Year 5 Scholarship Examination in the uncleared area for the year 1999

The above examinations are to be held as follows for 1999.

G.C.E. [A/L] 02.08.1999 to 24.08.1999 Year 5 Scholarship 08.08.1999.

The UNHCR has been requested to transport the question papers to the uncleared area.

I met Maj. Gen. L.P.Balagalla, Security Forces Commander, Wanni along with the Addl. Govt Agent on 19.07.1999 and discussed the development regarding opening up the Jaffna - Mankulam road. He informed me that he was more concerned in this matters and he is awaiting response from the LTTE to come to a compromise. I explained him the critical situation prevails in the uncleared area and reiterated the urgency to open the road.

In this connection I reproduce below the Radio Messages received from Govt Agent, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu regarding the situation in the uncleared areas.

A] Message received from Govt Agent, Mullaitivu on 13.07.1999. Further to my Radio Message of 1st inst. through ICRC [stop] Instructions regarding opening a route to Vavuniya is still awaited [stop] Food situation is very critical [stop] All stock of flour, sugar etc. have been exhausted [stop] kerosene oil not available to maintain essential services [stop] Long list of awaiting patients to be transported to Vavuniya for special treatment [stop] All connected parties may be requested to arrive an early decision in opening a route as 15 days have already passed after disruption of transport [stop]

B] Message received from Govt Agent, Kilinochchi on 14.07.1999. "No infant milk food and sugar for children and infants. No milk food and sugar for lactating and antenatal mothers as well as elders. Unable to continue rations for displaced populations without sugar, flour and dhall. Starvation among population is identified. Acute shortage of essential drugs is experienced. No route for transportation of serious patients to Vavuniya. Public are pressing me for arrangements with authorities. Please expedite arrangements with authorities for opening route and save population on humanitarian grounds. Please reply"

C] Message received from Govt Agent, Mullaitivu on 19.07.1999. "Further to my Radio message of tenth through ICRC. Protest campaign in front of ICRC and UNHCR Mallavi is being staged by disappointed public from yesterday Sixteenth. Indication are that this campaign will be extended to Kachcheri and other International NGO from Monday. If so I will not be able to communicate. Thirty patients are in the list of District Hospital Mullaitivu awaiting transfer to Vavuniya for special treatment which includes very urgent cases. One patient died on twelfth. Also stock of essential items exhausted. Immediate decision is requested to open a route to Vavuniya."

D] Message received from Govt Agent, Kilinochchi on 19.07.1999. "Kilinochchi District Kachcheri precincts are barricaded by human chain today. Entry into premises impossible. Slogans demand immediate food supply and drugs for treatment. Starvation is experienced. Population in desperate plight without food and drugs. Please expedite supply of food and drugs".

E] Message received from Govt Agent, Kilinochchi on 20.07.1999. "Barricading of Kilinochchi District Kachcheri by human chain continues today. State officers under intimidation of displaced papulation. Many thousand flock rallies with slogans demanding food, drugs and opening of route. District Medical Officer reports deaths of four serious patients without ambulance service to Vavuniya. Numerous serious patients on roll for transfer to Vavuniya. Immediate remedy is required. Please advise authorities for immediate action. Wire reply".