Mass Exodus from Jaffna: 104 Killed

Place: Jaffna peninsula | Courtesy: Sri-lanka Monitor- Oct. 1995; 93
| Date: 19951030

As a result of military operations against the LTTE in 1990, the Jaffna peninsula had already experienced waves of displacement. Army occupation of the villages of Mathagal, Illvalai, Vasavilan, and the islands of Mandaithivu, Kayts, Delft and Pooneryn had moved to Manipay, Sandilipay, Chunnakan and Killinochchi. They were living in sheds and tents without proper shelter and had lost their means of livlihood (fishing).

Operation "Riviresa" undertaken by the Sri-Lankan Government and its forces in the name of a "War for Peace" commenced on October 17th 1995 under a Military censorship. Aerial bombs and shells were directed to scare and drive the people from approaching State Forces. The densely populated town of Jaffna was experiencing the attack. As a result, an estimated half a million people fled in panic from the city of Jaffna.

Thousands of people packed the road south-east to Chavakachchrei in a human tide of misery, under monsoon rains. There was little food and no shelter, many were forced to sleep under trees. The heavy monsoon rains and poor sanitation resulted in the spread of cholera and other water borne diseases.

The then United Nations Secretary General Dr Boutros Boutros Ghali appealed to both sides and to the international community for immediate assistance for the thousands displaced to avert a major humanitarian crisis. The Sri-Lankan government refused this appeal.