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Saturday, 1 January, 2005

No help for thousands homeless in Sri Lankan rebel-held area

No help for thousands homeless in Sri Lankan rebel-held area
by Deborah Pasmantier

SAMPUR, Sri Lanka, Dec 30 (AFP) - Isolated at the end of a badly rutted road, this area controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels has had nearly no aid for 20,000 people left homeless by tsunamis that devastated Sri Lanka.
It takes a difficult, five-hour drive on dirt roads that pass through an army checkpoint and a Tamil Tiger post to get to rebel-held Sampur, about 160 kilometres (100 miles) southeast of Trincomalee.

Here 371 people were killed by the tsunamis that battered the Indian Ocean on Sunday. Another 200 have disappeared and about 20,000 are without shelter, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) say.

Since the assault, this region has lived almost solely on stocks first intended for victims of recent floods.

On Wednesday a non-government organistaion close the rebel group finally despatched 10 trucks of food and medicines. But no other aid trucks have made it to Sampur

"We cannot last more than two days," said S. Elinan, a Tamil Tiger official here.

In the two refugees camps, food stocks are low. In one housing 115 families, there is a high risk of cholera, says a representative, Seelvar Atam.

"There is only one toilet, some cases of diarrhea and fever and we lack medicines," Atam said.

The closest hospital is more than an hour away by road; the government dispensary is closed because the doctor is on holiday, said an employee, T.B. Layanther.

"It is clear" this area is getting less aid than others affected by the tsunami because it is controlled by the LTTE, Elinan charged.

In two cases, the army stopped vehicles carrying aid for ethnic Tamils and seized the contents, he said. Other vehicles were diverted to Sinhalese areas, he said. There was no way to confirm the claims.

The guerrillas admitted on Monday they could not handle the situation alone but the government "has not yet sent the aid it said it would," Elinan said.

"Help has not arrived because the government has not build a road for it to get here," he added. "That is why we are fighting."

Despite the shortages, there is a sense of discipline among the people of Sampur, shattered by 30 years of civil war that has killed more than 60,000 people across the island.

Food is shared out by the LTTE in camps organised by village chiefs, while doctors move from hamlet to hamlet, Atam said.

Despite the allegations against the military, the tragedy does appear to have forced a change of attitude among the soldiers.

More : Here
3 Comments Post a Comment
Blogger PajamaHadin said :

A letter from a Sri Lankan student requesting help is at PajamaHadin Blog

Sat Jan 01, 07:00:00 AM IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

I disagree with this it has since been reported that the LTTE have been preventing the entry of AID vehicles in to the LTTE rebel held areas despite the efforts of the Sri-Lankan government. This disaster and the problems of aid distribution highlights the drawbacks in the unnecessary ethnic division of such a small country such as Sri-Lanka and the inefficiencies of a terrorist run state.

Sat Jan 01, 05:47:00 PM IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

This really is not true!!

Independent people like myself and friends have sent truck loads of much needed food, water,clothing and medicine to the people in the north and east only to be turned away by the Tamil Tiger Rebels not the srilankan army!

colombo resident.

Sun Jan 02, 08:42:00 AM IST