Tamils Flee Villages In Northern Mannaar

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TAMILNET reports that internally displaced families (IDPs) in Moon’raampiddi and Ve’l’laangku’lam villages, located in the northern part of Mannaar district, were fleeing their villages and settlements on Friday.

This was after artillery and mortar barrage from the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) that has approached Iluppaikkadavai, north of Vidaththaltheevu.

Meanwhile, IDPs from the administrative areas of Maanthai West division of Mannaar district and Thu’nukkaay division in Mullaiththeevu district are undergoing severe hardships without proper accommodation and relief supplies in Karaichchi division of Ki’linochchi district.

Mathanarasa Yalini, mother of three children displaced from Thu’nukkaay, living under the shade of a tree, with tears streaming down her streak-lined face described her plight saying she was displaced with her children due to artillery attacks and that they don’t have any relatives in Skathapuram area where they have sought refuge.

‘We have not been provided any shelter by the authorities and as a result we have to face the scorching sun and also have to get drenched whenever it rains,’ she complained.

The emotional statement was typical of the plight of the hundreds of displaced families languishing in open areas in Skanthapuram without even the basic facilities.

Until 14 July, 1,398 families from the administrative area of Karaichchi Divisional Secretary (DS) area have become displaced, sources from Skanthapuram secretariat said.

The civilians displaced due to the military offensives of Sri Lanka Army (SLA) are presently living under trees and in shrubland. Meanwhile, rainfall in the area has compounded the woes of the IDPs whose meagre belongings have already been damaged or destroyed by incessant rain.

Skanthapuram secretariat provided the following statistics regarding the number of affected families, presently residing within Karaichchi DS area without proper accommodation facilities.

• Vannearikku’lam 108

• Aanaivizhunthaan 12

• Ka’n’nakipuram 76

• Skanthapuram 479

• Akkaraayanku’lam 673

• Koa’naavil 95

• Oottuppulam 19

Even the basic amenities, including toilet facilities and drinking water supplies, have not been provided for the IDPs, and the people are forced to trek to far away places under scorching sun and blistering heat to obtain water.

Due to the heavy concentration of people within a small area, toilet facilities have posed a serious problem. As a result, children, infants, women, especially those who are pregnant, face great hardships.

The sudden surge in the local population and the absence of required facilities and infrastructure has resulted in health related issues including the possibility of the spread of infectious diseases such as diarrhoea.

Dr T Sathyamoorthy, Ki’linochchi district Director of Health services and the Superintendent of Ki’linochchi government hospital, has already called upon the people to be more vigilant to prevent the spread of diseases by taking protective measures.

M Ithayathas, principal of Ki’linochchi Akkaraayan Maha Vidyalayam school, explaining the plight of the students and the impact caused by the displaced people on the school administration, said that almost half of the displaced population are students and that they have all been admitted to his school.

The students displaced from war-torn areas have been admitted since the beginning of the year. Already, 169 students displaced from Mannaar due to military offensives had begun continuing their studies in the school.

Now, the number has become more than 1,200. Amidst the rapidly deteriorating situation, there has been an influx of students from places such as Mallaavi, Thu’nukkaay and Paandiyanku’lam. The school simply doesn’t have resources to cope with the challenges of displacement.

The school’s well has dried up causing acute shortage of water. ‘At present, only 2,000 litres of water is being supplied by browser to our school but we need at least 4000 litres,’ the prinicipal said.

‘The students do not have adequate toilet facilities because of the recent wave of displaced students seeking admission’ Mr Ithayathas said, with visible signs of helplessness.

K Mahendran, the officer in charge of the sub office of Karaichchi District Secretariat located at Skanthapuram, commenting on the dearth of relief supplies for the displaced civilians, said he has been trying to obtain the supplies and was engaged in registering the details of the affected families.

He had only managed to arrange cooked food supply for the newly arrived families for three days.

Mathanarasa Yalini, a mother of three children displaced from Thu’nukkaay, continued to described their situation:

‘Please look at our plight. We have always been living independently, working hard to earn our living, but now it has come to the stage for us to beg for handouts from others. This morning I have not been able to provide breakfast for my children’, the distraught mother said.

Krishnamoorthy Kugan, a displaced father from Mallaavi, describing his family’s plight said: ‘In 1995, we moved out of Jaffna peninsula and were residing in Mallaavi in Mangkai civilian settlement. Now, due to artillery attack we had to move once again and we have ended up here.

‘We came here because this area is close to Akkaraayan hospital and we managed to find a tree for us to find shelter. We need to live close to a hospital because as we do not know when we will be subjected to claymore attacks, shell attack or aerial attack by the Sri Lankan bombers.

‘We have no safety or security anywhere we go, and now we have accepted the bitter fact that we are refugees,’ he continued, suggesting that it would be helpful if the IDPs were provided with wooden logs and planks.

‘As soon as we came here many organisations, including Red Cross Society, assisted us. They provided us with soap and bay set for the children. In addition, cooperative societies provided us with three litres of kerosene oil, but this is not adequate to meet our needs and we are unable to purchase our additional requirements in any of the stores in the area,’ he said.

‘Since we live under trees we need at least a bottle lamp to protect us from snake bites.’

The number of civilians seeking treatment for snake bite has escalated recently.

‘I have two children and I am trying to find some means of earning a living to feed them,’ Mr Kugan said.

The Government Agent of Ki’linochchi District, N Vethanayagan, addressing the media at a meeting held last Wednesday at Ki’linochchi District Secretariat, said relief supplies for 45,786 people belonging to 12,428 families for the month of May has yet to reach them.

The wave of civilian displacement continues unabated and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for the suffering IDPs.

When a TamilNet correspondent visited Akkaraayan, there was a sea of humanity throughout the area with trees being used for shelter by many.