Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Overseas TROs to Provide Relief in the East

Due to its inability to function in the East, TRO approached some local NGOs and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) operating in the districts of Amparai, Batticaloa and Trincomalee to explore the possibility of these organizations continuing TRO's projects and implementing much needed humanitarian relief for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been displaced by the GoSL's recent offensives...

TRO hereby appeals go anyone who wishes to help the displaced in the East to do so through their local Overseas TRO Office. These offices are spread across the world and the contact details are available on the www.troonline.org website.

PRESS RELEASE

13 April 2007


O
verseas TROs to Provide Humanitarian Relief Assistance in the East (Batticaloa, Amparai & Trincomalee Districts) Through International and Local Organizations

As a result of events in the East on the political as well as military fronts during 2006, a situation arose where TRO's access to the people in the East was not possible. TRO paid a heavy price in its attempt to continue with its humanitarian services in the East: 7 TRO humanitarian aid workers and volunteers were abducted and executed in early 2006, our offices were attacked and looted and our vehicles were taken away forcibly. All of these atrocities have only served to strengthen TRO's conviction to serve the people.

Disturbed by the goodwill that TRO engendered with the people in the East as a result of the high level of services TRO provided in the post-tsunami period, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) did the utmost possible to thwart TRO's humanitarian and development activities. The GoSL forces, in partnership with a paramilitary force, broke into TRO offices in the East of Sri Lanka and damaged and looted them. TRO's vehicles, which were used for humanitarian services, were forcibly taken away by these forces. GoSL and paramilitary forces currently illegally inhabit TRO offices in the East. The paramilitary force has taken over the TRO office in Trincomalee and the TRO office in Vaharai is today occupied by the Sri Lanka Police Force. All the TRO staff working in these offices were driven away by threats to their lives. The pathetic part of this story is that the GoSL forces and police, who have forcibly occupied TRO's offices, do nothing whatsoever to alleviate the sufferings of the displaced people and, in most cases, are the cause of the suffering.

The most recent attempt by the GoSL to alienate TRO from the people of the East was the September 2006 freezing of the TRO bank accounts in Sri Lanka "for investigation" as a result of baseless, false allegations. Undeterred, TRO did not retreat and, despite harassment, has kept its office in the capital, Colombo, open. TRO, instead, chose to challenge the freezing of the bank account in the courts. Due to numerous delays by the GoSL and the Court, TRO has still not had its "day in court." The GoSL has to date not produced any evidence to back up its allegations, despite 8 months of "investigation" and court proceedings. TRO has continued most of its projects despite the freezing.

Due to its inability to function in the East, TRO approached some local NGOs and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) operating in the districts of Amparai, Batticaloa and Trincomalee to explore the possibility of these organizations continuing TRO's projects and implementing much needed humanitarian relief for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been displaced by the GoSL's recent offensives.



CURRENT SITUATION IN THE EAST -

DISPLACED PEOPLE:

Displaced from

Number of people

Koaralaippattu South

500

Koaralaippattu West

              800

Koaralaippattu Centre

600

Koaralaippattu

6,124

Eravur pattu

31,943

Manmunai North

36,120

Manmunai Pattu

                       22,898

Manmunai South

40,190

Total

                 139,175

Families

42,492

 

Approximately, 23,400 families have been lodged in community halls, schools, and makeshift shelters and the rest are staying with relatives and other host families. The approximately 66,500 IDPs who are staying with relatives do not have access to relief. Altogether, 19,400 shelters need be put up and, thus far, International organizations have undertaken to erect 11,560 shelters. There is a remaining need of 5,840 shelters.

There are 96 refugee camps housing the IDPs in the Batticaloa District. These IDPs languish without adequate food, and recent statements by international organizations state that food supplies are almost exhausted. Several of the camps have no roofs and thus far only 1,600 toilet facilities have been provided. This results in each toilet having to be used by 100 IDPs. 

In Amparai district, approximately 9,000 IDPs lack drinking water and undergo untold difficulties as a result of not having access to basic facilities.

All of the displaced people in Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and Amparai have moved to the areas controlled by the GoSL due to shelling by the GoSL. More than 14 International organizations and about 43 local organizations serve these IDPs and we recognize and appreciate their service mindedness and support. It is however regrettable that there appear to be considerable shortcomings in the provision of relief and efficient management of the IDP crisis in the Batticaloa District.

Given the vast experience of TRO during prior conflict and tsunami-related displacements, it is not at all a big challenge for TRO to care for up to 150,000 displaced persons. But, as a result of the actions of the GoSL, such as the freezing of the TRO bank accounts, the other unwritten economic sanctions and restrictions, the arbitrary blockades imposed by the GoSL and due to the antisocial activities of paramilitaries, supported by the GoSL, TRO is unable to be physically present in the East to assist the affected people and perform the needed humanitarian relief activities.

Nevertheless, TRO has taken measures to serve our people in the East with the logistical assistance of some international and local organizations.

TRO hereby appeals go anyone who wishes to help the displaced in the East to do so through their local Overseas TRO Office. These offices are spread across the world and the contact details are available on the www.troonline.org website.

ENDS

Arjunan Ethirveerasingam , Media Relations TRO (Colombo)
UK Mobile: +44 7758 649198
Skype I.D.: arjunan1
TRO:         www.troonline.org