More than 72,000 Tamil civilians internally
displaced due to the military confrontations in the East,
residing in 50 temporary camps in Batticaloa district's LTTE
and GoSL controlled areas, are facing serious shortage of
food, accommodation, drinking water, sanitation and toilet
facilities, according to Batticaloa District Secretariat.
Muttur east clashes, followed by battle for Sampoor, and now
Vaharai clashes intensifying, the increasing numbers of
Internally Displaced (IDPs) in Batticaloa face a dismal
Following the offensive of SLA and aerial bombings by Sri
Lankan Air Force (SLAF) in July and August, more than 40,000
people from the LTTE controlled Muthur East area in
Trincomalee district became displaced and fled to Vaharai in
LTTE controlled Batticaloa district.
During the battle for Sampoor in November 2006, Batticaloa
District Secretariat reported 41,463 people from Trincomalee
district and 30,630 people from Batticaloa have fled to the
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) controlled areas in the Batticaloa
district from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
held areas. The IDPs sheltered in 22 temporary locations in
14 Grama Seveka divisions in Batticaloa district.
Now, with the battle for Vaharai intensifying, other than
the nearly 15,000 residents and IDPs are trapped in Vaharai
as the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) conducts its brutal campaign to
evict Tamils from the region, the rest have fled the area
swelling the IDP population in other areas of Batticaloa.
Torrential rains in the past few days have blown off the
roofs of six of the toilets constructed at the Kurukkalmadam
camp in Manmunai Theneruvil Pattu regional secretary
division. Twenty five tents in the camp have collapsed and
six civilians residing in the camp afflicted by rain-related
disease have been admitted in Kaluvanchikudy hospital.
652 civilians belonging to 188 families are accommodated at
this camp, include 68 expectant mothers, 61 nursing mothers
and 25 infants.
Acting on a complaint of worm-infested food being served to
the residents of this camp, Mr.Gopalapillai, the regional
secretary visited the camp, and after discussing with
officer in charge, instructed that in future food should not
served without the permission of public health officials.
Commenting on the situation prevailing at this camp,
S.Krishnakumar, health officer of Kaluvanchikudy area said
that construction of large number of tents is the root cause
for the problems involving sanitation, drinking water supply
and toilet facilities. He said that the problem can only be
alleviated transferring some of the residents of the camp
either to Mahiloor or to a new camp currently being
constructed in Kaluvanchikudy, civil society sources said.
Acting on the suggestion of Mr.Krishnakumar, Batticaloa
district Government Agent (GA), Suntharam Arumainayagam,
instructed the regional secretary to take immediate steps to
transfer 50 families to Kaluvanchikudy.
GA also announced that he will also take the necessary steps
to transfer a Grama Sevaka (GS) from the area.
According to statistics released by Mr.Arumainayagam, the
number of displaced families living in refugee camps in
other areas are:
67 (352 members) Cheddipalyam
172 (642 members ) Manchamthoduvai
21000 (72,000 members) reside in 50 camps in Batticaloa
Asked about the number of internally displaced people (IDPs)
in Batticaloa district, GA said a total of 64673 civilians
belonging to 18176 families are residing in both the
Government controlled areas and in LTTE-controlled areas in
the following camps at the various locations:
21 Manmunai North
The Government Agent assured that he has
discussed with various non governmental Organizations (NGOs)
regarding accommodation issues and matters related to
providing adequate sanitation and toilet facilities for the
displaced, sources said.
[TamilNet, 11 January 2007]
Lanka's Military Commander Lt.Gen Sarath Fonseka's assertion
that Sri Lankan Forces will evict Liberation Tigers from the
East withn the next two months, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has
intensified shelling and artillery attacks into Vaharai.
The people originally from Vaharai region and residents from
the neighboring Trincomalee district who fled into Vaharai
to swell the Internally Displaced People (IDP) population,
express fear and uncertainty.
“I have been
running from place to place for the last four months to
escape shelling and Kfir attacks by the Sri Lankan Forces.
The international community should do something to save our
lives," an internally displaced woman told in Vaharai
“I am from Senaiyur in Trincomalee district and due to the
heavy shelling and aerial attacks I first fled to
Ilakkanthai and then to Mugaththuwaram. Later, we were
compelled to move to Verugal from where moved to Vaharai
unable to stand the artillery attacks and Kfir jet bombings.
“The Government that made us displaced, wanted us to move
out of Vaharai, but some of us opted to remain here. We face
severe shortage of basic essentials. It is very difficult to
obtain enough rice, good vegetables and even salt for rice.
“Kfir jets bombed Verugal Temple and destroyed the water
sanitation system built by UN agency and thus depriving the
people drinking water facility. The people of the area are
now compelled to drink the salinated water once again,"
another IDP said.
displaced woman, Kannappa Sivapakkiyam explained her
difficult life: “My hearing ability has been severely
impaired due to the continuing artillery and shell attacks.
I am scared very much. I have meager food and water. I was
staying at Palchenai Refugee camp and then fled towards
Vaharai hospital to escape shelling. A young boy helped me
to come here, as I am unfamiliar to this area. The doctor at
Vaharai hospital helped me a lot.
“Please stop the shelling at all costs. I cannot bear this
any more. I wish that the New Year will solve our problems
and bring us prosperity. I have been displaced several times
since 1983 and I cannot move anymore.”
Another mother, Mrs. Rasa said: “We were running away to
escape from the falling shells and bombs. We lie on the
ground each time a shell fell. Even though we managed to
reach the school building, the shells continued to fall,
killing and injuring many people.
"We could not come along Nallur road and we managed to reach
Mugaththuwaram. The shelling continued there too, and a
fences began burning all around. I prayed as I fled with my
child to Vammivedduvan and then to Kandalady as shells
continued to fall.
“When shells started raining, I was at the mouth of a bunker
and my child was inside. When a shell exploded near me, I
was thrown a few meters away. My son shouted my name in
panic. I could not see and hear for a while, and when I
regained sight and hearing later, I could hear the sound of
more shells. I am a person not frightened easily, but that
day we hid in the bunker for the whole day. As soon as
shelling stopped, we came to Vaharai.”
“Education of the children is suffering. The Grade 5
Scholarship national examination was scheduled on 4
December. However, two days before, Kfir jets started the
bombing raids. The Army closed the A-15 road on the day of
the exam and the children and teachers waited until 1:00
p.m. for the question paper to arrive. I could not stay at
home leaving my child at the school out of fear of shelling.
The children took cover along the walls of the school
building. Teachers asked me why I had come to the school.
How could I stay home, leaving my only child at the school?
“The Government did not send the question papers saying that
there were clashes in Vaharai. I was very keen on my child's
education right from the nursery class.
“I have seen Sri Lanka's President Rajapakse with his three
children on the TV. They all are grown-up children. I
thought the President, being the parent of those children,
would understand how another parent would feel for the
“Mahinda and Rambukwella, who are dropping bombs and shells
on us, should come here and stay here for some time. Then
only they would understand what pain is, suffering is and
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) from its camps in Valaichenai Paper
Factory and Karadikkulam launched their latest artillery
attack on Vaharai last Friday. The shells fell on the
Vaharai Maha Vidyalayam school compound where the Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) have sought temporary shelter,
forcing them to run to Vaharai hospital.
The shells damaged the school building but fortunately, no
one was injured. The shelling took place when food relief
was being distributed to the IDPs at the Tamils
Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) office at Vaharai.
Aftermath of Sri Lanka Attack on Vahari
[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 February 2007, 01:01 GMT]
More than 200 civilians were killed and hundreds of
others injured in the five-month long Sri Lanka military
offensive carried out in sea, air and land on Vaharai and
adjoining coastal hamlets. Nearly 40,000 IDPs stay in 49
temporary shelters and with friends and relatives elsewhere
in the military controlled part of Batticaloa district. The
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Vaharai and
neighboring Trincomalee district express resentment over the
inequity in reimbursing relief and compensation by Sri Lanka
Vaharai is the second largest Divisional
Secretariat division in the district, comprising 21% of the
land area. However, the population of the Division is low
compared to other divisions, and more than 70% of Vaharai
residents live below poverty line. Shortage of teachers
during the past decade has resulted in low literacy rate.
Vaharai lies 75 km north of Batticaloa bordering Trincomalee
district in the north and Polannaruwa district in the west.
The only trunk road passes through this area is A- 15, the
Trincomalee- Batticaloa Road and the branches of Mahavali
Gangai, the longest river in Sri Lanka severs the road at
two places i.e. at Verugal and Kiliveddy.
Even though the Division has abundance of seafoods and wild
life, due to the location and inadequate infrastructure, the
area is under developed. The three decade of war too has
contributed to the low-levels of development and the dire
Attracted by the beautiful flora and fauna, the former
Premier of Sri Lanka, Mrs. Srima Bandaranayake built a
personal circuit bungalow in Vaharai. Sinhalese were settled
at Kajuwatta (a Sinhala term means cashew estate), adjoining
Panichchenkerny, under the pretext of cashew promotion in
the fertile lands. The abundance of seafoods too attracted
many Sinhala businesspersons and seasonal fishermen to this
The elite groups of the society used this area for hunting.
Those who voluntarily setup home Vaharai region went back
with the wealth, but the poor natives continued to live
under poverty line.
Vaharai gave shelter to the people of Muthur East area in
the Trincomalee district who were made refugees due to the
military offensives in August 2006, in the middle of the
fifth year of the Norwegian brokered Cease Fire Agreement
between the government and Liberation Tigers. On 08
November, when the Sri Lanka Army carried out an artillery
attack on the refugees at the Kathiravely School Refugees
camp, 58 people including children and women were killed and
125 were injured.
The Palchenai Refugees camp attack killed 37 IDPs, and in
Vaddavan 18 died. In addition, a number of IDPs died when
fleeing by land and sea, and hundreds of others sustained
An accurate number of dead and injured is difficult to
arrive at, as IDPs live spreadout in the district, many
living with relatives and friends without the knowledge of
the local authorities dealing with the relief assistance and
Meanwhile, the IDPs living at government expenses, point out
inefficiencies of the authorities in paying compensations
and say the payments are not timely. They say the red tape
system should be put aside to help the people in need.
For example, the Ministry of Disaster Management gives Rs
15,000.00 for funeral expenses and Rs. 100,000.00 for a
death. The injured are paid according to the seriousness of
the injury. Although the rules apply to all communities,
Tamil refugees complain of discrimination in relief
When Sinhalese or Muslims are affected all the payments are
distributed promptly, Tamil refugees say. Tamil IDPs receive
payments for funeral expenses long after the death, and
death benefits are paid after family struggles through
months of hardship.
Civil society sources said the money allocated in fiscal
year 2006 to pay compensation to the Kathiravely victims,
was returned to the treasury due to the negligence of the
authorities. When the authorities started to pay the money
at the end of December, the Army resumed offensive the
moneys were returned to the treasury, and so far the local
authorities have not approached provincial authorities for
Batticaloa district government machinery is slow, civil
sources say. Even tsunami victims were paid compensation
only after three months of the catastrophe. Meanwhile, in
Jaffna, the then Government Agent, Chelliah Pathmanathan,
borrowed 2.5 million rupees from local businesspersons and
gave the affected people immediately for funeral expenses.
Then Premier Mahinda Rajapakse when he visited Jaffna came
to know this and congratulated the GA for his timely and
Rs 870,000.00 is needed to pay all Kathiravely victims. The
question in civil society's is whether the Batticaloa
Government Agent will rise up to the challenge to see the
needs of the most vulnerable section of the society, are met