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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Thousands flee Jaffna
"A mass exodus of civilians was reported from Jaffna town today with thousands of people fleeing to the eastern Tenamarachchi section of the embattled peninsula even as the Sri Lankan security forces continued their onward march. ``Thousands of people are on the road,'' non-Governmental sources said today. ``The roads are clogged,'' the sources said, adding the movement of civilians was unprecedented. ``We are watching the situation with considerable concern,'' a United Nations aid official said. (Hindu, 1 November 1995)
Christopher Thomas in Vavuniya, Northern Sri Lanka reported in the London Times on 31 October 1995:
"Many civilians have been killed by government shelling and bombing, which has hit residential areas of the town. There is panic among the 600,000 Tamils on the Jaffna peninsula. The greatest humanitarian crisis of the war is in the making...Tamil civilians in Jaffna are evidently terrified by the advancing of the soldiers and are looking to the Tigers to save them from what they are convinced will be a massacre.."
"Information from aid officials in Jaffna suggested that the town was ``empty'' while the Government Agent, Mr. K. Ponnambalam, said 65 per cent of the 850,000-strong population of the peninsula had fled to the eastern Tenamarachchi area. … In another development, the Jaffna Government Agent, Mr. K. Ponnambalam, said that 42 civilians had been killed due to aerial bombing at Chavakachcheri and Nunavil in eastern Jaffna peninsula as well as Manipay and Annaicodai, west of Jaffna town, yesterday. In a letter to the President, Mr. Ponnambalam said: ``On behalf of the fleeing innocent civilians, refugees and children I beg (you) to stop bombing and shelling and avoid deaths of innocent civilians, refugees and children.''
``As a matter of urgency please also announce safety (safe) areas for civilians fleeing away from shelling and bombing,'' the Government Agent said, asking the President to ensure that security forces did not bomb or shell the area. Several Tamil groups have also supported this call for the declaration of the eastern Tenamarachchi area of the Jaffna peninsula as a ``safe zone'' for the refugees who have fled there. A reference to the killing of civilians in aerial bombing was also made by Mr. J. Pararajasingham, TULF MP, in Parliament today." (Hindu, 1 November 1995)
Reuters reported on 2 December 1995:
"Estimates of how many Tamils have fled the besieged northern Jaffna peninsula vary from the government's 180,000 to as many as 500,000, some without shelter, but most finding accommodation in camps, old thatched huts or with friends or relations.
"The civilians are fleeing Jaffna where the armed forces are expected to capture Jaffna town, capital of the rebels' wouldbe homeland, any day. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, fighting for the homeland in the north and east of tropical Sri Lanka, have ferried civilians in boats across Jaffna lagoon to camps on the mainland, more and more filtering through to the mainland from this frontline town. .. Families arriving in Vavuniya on Thursday said shelling had decreased in recent days in Jaffna and dry weather meant an easier time for the estimated 110,000 people gathered in Kilinochchi, eight km (five miles) south of the Jaffna lagoon.
``People are still coming into Kilinochchi because they are frightened the (armed forces') operation might start up anywhere after Riviresa,'' one man said as he was chanelled into the Thandikulam army camp for classification.
"Operation Riviresa was launched on October 17 in the north of the Jaffna peninsula and has brought the army into the heart of Jaffna town itself.
``People are running here and there to find relations at Kilinochchi,'' another refugee said. ``People are coming back up from Colombo to find their loved ones. A number are at the mainland ferry hoping they may be on the next boat to cross the lagoon.''