Mass exodus in Vanni by Operation Edibala

Place: Vanni | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 19970200

Another humanitarian crisis is looming as Sri Lankan forces shell and aerial-bomb Tamil border villages on the edges of Vavuniya and Mannar districts in their latest offensive.

Heavy artillery fire is raining down on a number of villages causing civilians to flee in massive waves. Many people are unsure where exactly to escape to since the direction of the offensive is not clear. At the moment there is shelling in various directions aimed deliberately at driving the population away in order that the army can occupy more territory. There is little or no LTTE presence in the targeted areas. Meanwhile, many shaken Tamil people have arrived at the Madhu refugee camp which is run by the UNHCR, but this place is now over-crowded.

Many newly-arriving displaced people are now sheltering beneath trees on the road, notably in the area of IranaiIllupaikulam. Meanwhile, the villages of Kannaddy, Kanesapuram, Periathampanai, Pandivirichan, Maduroad andPoovilunthan have become totally deserted. The last-arriving residents said the trees have all collapsed and the houses areburning. Sri Lanka routinely denies the deliberate targeting of heavily-populated civilian areas. But the government's block on journalists to the north-east ensures that the scale of the human tragedy goes unreported.
Tamilnet News Report, 8 February 1997