SRI LANKA: Aid reaching IDPs in north though supply lines under pressure - UN
At least 12,000 families have fled the fighting in the last two months in the northern parts of Mannar District, southwestern areas of Kilinochchi District and Mulaitivu District
COLOMBO, 14 August 2008 (IRIN) - Adequate supplies are reaching new internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka's northern areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers, UN and humanitarian relief officials in the capital, Colombo, told IRIN.
At least 12,000 families have fled the fighting in the last two months in the northern parts of Mannar District, southwestern areas of Kilinochchi District and Mulaitivu District, according to UN officials, and most are now in the outskirts of Kilinochchi town, under the control of the Tigers, 300km north of the capital.
"There has been no substantial improvement in the condition of the displaced, but we do have access to most of them," Gordon Weiss, UN spokesperson in Sri Lanka, told IRIN.
When large numbers of civilians began fleeing the fighting in mid-July there were fears they could get cut off
due to fighting, but, Weiss said, vital supply lines remained open despite the fighting.
"There is a lot of pressure on the supply lines and the situation is very fluid," he said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said food, shelter, sanitation and clean water remained urgent priorities. It said in its monthly bulletin for June-July released on 14 August that the situation needed to be continuously monitored but most of the displaced were accessible.
"Many people have received basic humanitarian relief but as the number of displaced persons increases, so do their needs," Anthony Dalziel, the ICRC's deputy head of delegation in Sri Lanka, said in the bulletin
Thangamuthu Sathyamurthi, Director of Kilinochchi Hospital in Kilinochchi town, told IRIN that so far enough supplies were getting through to the displaced. "None of the IDPs are cut off. They are all accessible." He said a stock of rice had arrived in Kilinochchi this week.
"It is too early to say how long we can manage with the supplies that are coming in. A lot will depend on [the state of] supply lines and the number of IDPs."
Bracing for fresh displacements
Photo: Amantha Perera/IRIN
|A displaced family shares a meal. The ICRC said food, shelter, sanitation and clean water remained urgent priorities for IDPs|
According to UN statistics at least 145,000 IDPs remain inside areas under the control of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka's north, referred to as the Vanni.
According to the ICRC, some of the recently displaced had fled fighting on several occasions in recent months.
Weiss said the UN and relief agencies had access to all but a small number of civilians who have remained in areas where the most recent fighting was taking place. However UN agencies expect more displacements if fighting continues. "Due to ongoing clashes more displacement is anticipated, and then more supplies will be needed," Weiss said. He added that the overall IDP figure in the Vanni could rise to 200,000. Temporary shelter
Most of the new IDPs are living in make-shift shelters. The authorities have asked for help to provide temporary shelters.
Sathyamurthi of Kilinochchi Hospital said IDPs living on open ground needed proper shelters before the rains arrive. "The situation will get worse when the rainy season starts by the end of September," he said.
Nagalingam Vedanayagam, the government agent for Kilinochchi District, has requested temporary shelter material for 12,000 families, the UN Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) reported in a situation report
released on 11 August. It said he had received commitments for 2,000 families but warned that more displacements were likely in the coming weeks.