38,000 Tamils face starvation in Vaharai, humanitarian
disaster imminent - Sampanthan
[TamilNet, Sunday, 19 November 2006, 12:00 GMT]
human rights law, there is a recognised right to
adequate and available food...... whatever the full
contours and permeations of the right to food might
be, it is clear that it constitutes a violation of
the human rights law to deny adequate food to a
given population. Moreover, it would be especially
unlawful and egregious to deny the right to adequate
food as government tactic to control certain persons
or as a weapon of war. The most egregious violations
include denials of food and medicine or medical
supplies, especially for children.… If food
is likely to be used by both the general population
and enemy combatants, the destruction or denial of
food, in circumstances where one can reasonably
foresee that the general population will suffer,
will necessarily involve the indiscriminate use of
food as a weapon. [these] denials also
violate related prohibitions under the laws of war,
and constitute serious war crimes...
Fear of food falling into the hands of enemy
combatants is not an excuse for denying food to the
It is time for the international community to
recognise that, in addition to medicine and medical
supplies, food should always be treated as neutral
property during an armed conflict. Because of highly
predictable consequences, both short term and long
term, food should never be used as a weapon of war.
Professor Jordan J. Paust, Vanderbilt Journal of
Transnational Law, May ’98
Tamil National Alliance Parliamentary Group leader and MP
for Trincomalee District, R. Sampanthan, in an urgent letter to Sri Lankan
President Mahinda Rajapakse, Sunday, requested again the SL President that
food, medicine and other essentials be urgently rushed to the people of
Vakarai and Kathiraveli and urged Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse to intervene
personally and take every necessary step to ensure that this is done. 8,500
families from the villages of Trincomalee district, internally displaced to
Vakarai and Kathiraveli in addition to 3,500 families of the area are facing
malnutrition, disease and starvation. "A grave humanitarian disaster is
imminent," Mr. Sampanthan said.
20 November 2006
His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapakse,
President, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
STARVATION OF 12,000 TAMIL FAMILIES IN THE VAKARAI AND KATHIRAVELLI AREAS IN
NORTH BATTICALOA DISTRICT
When we met you on the 16th of November 2006 together with your Secretary
and Principal Advisor, we raised with you the plight of the 12,000 Tamil
families in the above areas who had not been supplied with food, medicine or
other essentials for almost three weeks, and who were consequently
undergoing much human suffering. Your Principal Advisor clearly told us that
Vakarai and Kathiravelli would receive supplies by that evening, the 16th of
November 2006. We were greatly relieved.
On the 17th of November, ten lorry loads of food were sent from the
Batticaloa Kachcheri to Vakarai and Kathiravelli, along with the Divisional
Secretary of the area. The lorries were stopped at Navalladdy – Cobra Bridge
– some kilometers south of Maankerni Army checkpoint by the Armed Forces,
and directed to return. One Brigadier Ratnayaka had later telephoned the
Government Agent and told him that no more lorries should be sent to Vakarai
and Kathiravelli areas, and that steps should be taken to evacuate the
people living in the said areas.
We raised this matter in Parliament on the 18th of November 2006. Hon.
Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who intervened on behalf of the Government
having spoken to the Defence Secretary and others in the military
establishment, gave an assurance in Parliament that eight lorry loads with
food would go to Vakarai and Kathiravelli on that very day the 18th.
Accordingly eight lorries left the Batticaloa Kachcheri, with the Additional
Government Agent, the Divisional Secretary and Assistant Divisional
Secretary. They were stopped at the Maankerni checkpoint and could not
proceed further. They were directed to return to Batticaloa.
No food has been sent to Vakarai and Kathiravelli after the 27th of October
2006, on which date a meagre supply sufficient only for a limited number of
people was sent. An adequate supply was last sent on the 20th of October.
You will thus appreciate that for a period of over three weeks, no food,
medicine or other essentials has been sent to the people in these areas.
These 12,000 Tamil families comprise of around 38,000 persons – men, women
and children. Of these families around 3,500 families are permanent
residents of Vakarai and Kathiravelli, and the other 8,500 families are
internally displaced people from the villages in the south, southeast and
southwest of the adjoining Trincomalee District.
These persons are facing malnutrition, disease and starvation. A grave
humanitarian disaster is imminent.
I have to request that food, medicine and other essentials be urgently
rushed to the people of Vakarai and Kathiravelli, and that you kindly
intervene personally and take every necessary step to ensure that this is
TNA Parliamentary Group Leader & MP for Trincomalee District