Famine is widespread. People are not eating for several days. The fainting incidents are common. Many reach the stage of stupor. If not taken any action they reach coma stage and die.
Bomber aircrafts have resumed bombing raids since 4th May, 2009. On 4th coastal IDP settlements were attacked. Today several bombs were dropped in the densely populated interior of the coastal village. This has increased the deaths and injuries manifold. This is an added atrocity apart from mayhem caused by artillery and canon fire.
Famine is widespread. People are not eating for several days. The fainting incidents are common. Many reach the stage of stupor. If not taken any action they reach coma stage and die. No food items in the shops. The land is barren. No eatable vegetation.
TRO’s gruel distribution is the only source for some relief. That is the only hope for survival. A time is coming when gruel is going to be the only frugal food for all. There is only enough gruel available for one or two more days. After that no food will be here. All will be exhausted. People will start dying in big numbers. Children emaciated and with bellies and skinny features is familiar sight now. Thousands of them are going to die first.
Pregnant and lactating mothers suffer immensely without food while they need nutritious food. They are traumatized. Pregnant mothers are worried about deformed child to be born by malnutrition. They want to eat more and nutritious food. But food is not there. They go hungry. This affects both the mother and the child to be born. Likewise lactating mothers need the balanced food to feed the baby with mother’s milk. Even normal food is not available. It affects the milk production. Not enough milk is produced to feed the baby. It results in both mother and baby becoming lean and bony.
2nd May, 2009
Time: 6 PM
Shell attacks: Immediately after the announcement of the Government that it would not use heavy weapons,
tanks and bomber aircrafts it intensified their attacks by using artillery, cannons and bomber aircrafts. Aerial
attacks took place immediately after the announcement. Government has suspended aerial attacks as they were
observed by satellites. No one knows when this will be resumed. But attacks using artillery, multi barrel guns,
cluster bombs, cannons and tanks from land and sea were stepped up. The deaths and maiming increased
dramatically. For the last 2 days – since 30th night to 2nd evening the death toll is 221 and injured are 402.
In one incident a shell fell in the midst of a crowd in the road. 8 people died on the spot. The shell has blasted 2
persons into small pieces. The pieces have to be swept with a broom stick. Some pieces have got stuck on the
body part of a vehicle parked on the roadside. They have to be removed with sticks. A corpse was without a head.
The head was found at a distance. All – the dead bodies and pieces were collected and taken in a tractor by TRO
team for burial.
The shells are directed from Mullaitivu, Puthukudiyiruppu, Oddusuddan and sea. A shell fell on the Manjolai
hospital at Mullivaikal on 29th of April. It went through the tiled roof of the hospital and fell into a room filled with
injured persons who were subjected to surgery earlier. It killed 9 people on the spot. Several people injured
already were affected severely.
On 2nd of May on two occasions, several shells fell in and around the vicinity of Manjolai hospital at Mullivaikal. The
shells had hit the hospital crowded by injured patients. In this attack 64 people were killed and over 80 injured. A
huge smoke and dust erupted and covered the hospital. We thought that the whole school building which was
turned into a makeshift hospital has collapsed. When TRO staff rushed to the hospital, they saw severely wounded
patients lying there. They could not move to anywhere. The parents threw their children into pits in the hospital
compound and ran for safety. Scores of patients who didn’t have severe injuries were crawling in all directions.
Some of them who crawled outside were also killed by shells fell subsequently in the vicinity. Blood splashed
everywhere on the ground and on the tarpaulin sheets inside the hospital. Many bodies were mangled beyond
recognition. Body parts and pieces of flesh were strewn all over the hospital compound. TRO staff helped in doing
first aid to the injured people, removing the dead for burial and cleaning the hospital. One NGO official told me
that ICRC is interested in evacuating the wounded by ship to Trincomalee but they are not interested in stopping
the killing and wounding of civilians by the government forces.
Food Scarcity: Food is a critical problem. For the whole month (of April) 30 MT food items came by a ship. Then
on 30th April another 30 MT food items came. It was announced that about 1100 MT food items were being loaded
to a ship in Trincomalee. But it didn’t come. This is on the assumption and announcement by the government that
in Vanni only 15,000 people are living now. But according to District Secretariat about 165,000 are in Vanni. For
this number of population District Secretariat needs about 2500 MT monthly. But we got now was 60 MT for a
whole month as we got since 2nd of April. This is enough for emaciation and death of the population. World Food
Programme. WFP says that they can send by ship to Vanni what is only allowed by the Government claiming that
the Vanni population now is around 50,000. “Cheers to WFP” for going along with the Genocidal Agenda of the
Government. Food is used as a weapon of war apparently. Everyone knows about it. But no one is ready to stop
this genocidal intent.
Long queues are waiting under blazing sun to get 1⁄2 kilo rice, 100 gram dhal and little sugar if one has a child
below 5 years. This 1⁄2 kilo rice for a person can hold out for how many days? This is barely enough for a day as
there are no other food items available in the shops. About 40,000 families are living in this area. 24,000 kilo rice
arrived by ship on 30th April. This is distributed among them. People have been condemned to survive with this for
a whole month!
No food items are available in the shops or in road side stalls. Essential food items such as rice, flour and sugar
can not be found in the shops. Even if you have money you have to go hunger as you can’t buy them. Even at Rs.
1,500 you can’t buy a coconut. An old lady wanted to buy a coconut urgently to prepare a curry for her daughter
who gave birth to a child recently. It’s called “gj;jpar; rhg;ghL”. It’s prepared by using Kothamalli – coriander,
spices which are not hot and coconut scraps. When she heard the price of it she could not afford it. She came back with a video deck – in return she got a coconut which was sold earlier – before the displacement at Rs.20/=.
In another case to buy 2 coconuts a man had to give a TV and a deck.
The children are more affected by the scarcity of food. The children are asking mothers crying for food, “Amma, Amma – grp – we are hungry.” My friend told me that he and his friend were having rotti with cooked dhal for
breakfast at about 9 AM two days back. They were surrounded by 7 or 8 small children. The boys seemed to be
coming from Somalia. Darkened by hot sun, they were with big bellies and bony figures. My colleagues were also
having very limited – tiny breakfast. Each of them was given one rotti with little dhal curry. The boys were asking
at least one rotti to be divided among them. My friends gave half rotti each making a full rotti to the boys. How
that small piece would have lessened the burning hunger of those small children who have not eaten properly for
several days? That piece of rotti is not enough even for one swallow.
Another friend narrated a famine related story. He saw a crowd of people queuing to get gruel at a centre
organized by TRO. All age groups and status of people were there. Small children, young girls and boys, men and
women and old people were in the queue. At a certain point of time the gruel has finished. Organizers have
stopped the distribution for that day saying they had already distributed many times and didn’t have rice to make
gruel any more. But the crowd was insisting that they should be provided gruel as that was the only food for them.
It seemed that many in the queue have not eaten in their shelters for several days. They depended heavily on the
gruel centres. Finally the organizers had to give in. The long queue waited patiently for the gruel to be prepared
which has no calorie value. The gruel is made of rice, water and salt.
I saw on two occasions wealthy business people coming to our office and begging for one kilo of rice. They were
telling that they had money but they can’t buy rice or flour at the shops. They were in miserable mood. TRO had
to concede to their requests too by taking out food packages meant for the selected most vulnerable people. If
this well to do people can’t manage this famine, what about the marginalized others who are in hundreds of
Over hundred people have died of famine to my knowledge. Everyday people are dying. This will increase radically
in the coming days as the food situation worsens. A section of a people with great heritage is dying by famine and
shell attacks while the world is watching this numbly.
Displacement Again: Most of the people in Mullivaikal have been displaced over 20 times. Now they have to
move within Mullivaikal. They have been pushed into a corner. Where ever there is a relative safety – that too at a
short distance – within one or 2 kilometres people start moving taking their shelter materials – tarpaulin sheets
and timber or iron poles and other household goods. When heavy shelling starts near frontlines people start
moving - distancing themselves from those areas. Near the frontline areas – in the civilian settlements there are
barrages by multi barrel guns and artillery pieces making people to evacuate. Cluster and burning phosphorous
bombs are used extensively. In other areas too - in the so called safety zone shells are directed sporadically killing
and injuring several people.
Traffic Jam: When thousands of people start moving quickly at the same time in vehicles and on foot through
narrow roads traffic jam occurs. They move in panic. When they hear the sound of artillery fire nearby they get
scared. They look all around in trying to determine the direction and distance where the shell fell. When a shell fell
too close to them all fall on the ground. They have no choice. They can’t move one foot forward or backward. The
traffic jam is too knotty – to untie the knot it takes more than an hour – within that time one or two shells may fall
amidst them. This has happened several times before killing and maiming hundreds of people.
Head of Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) Field Office
Mullivaikkal, Mullaitivu District
Lawrence Christy/ Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation/repost