Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Diaspora Lifeline Sustains Vanni

by Tamil Guardian, London, June 14, 2012

[T]he Island newspaper reported the same week that since May 2009, the Diaspora has sent over Rs 1 billion through the state-owned Bank of Ceylon alone to Tamils in the north, especially Vanni.

Repeating a common falsehood, Sri Lanka’s President Rajapakse recently lambasted the Tamil diaspora as not having spent a penny on helping the Tamils of the Vanni.

Speaking at the opening of the communications tower in Kilinochchi last week he claimed that ‘not a single member of the so called Tamil Diaspora shouting in foreign countries to protect the rights of Tamils, has donated a single dollar for the welfare of Tamils in Sri Lanka.’

However, the Island newspaper reported the same week that since May 2009, the Diaspora has sent over Rs 1 billion through the state-owned Bank of Ceylon alone to Tamils in the north, especially Vanni.

Since the war’s end, “many Tamils living overseas have begun transferring money to their relatives, particularly the war displaced in the Vanni region,” the paper said.

In fact, the total of Diaspora support for Tamils in Sri Lanka would be much higher, since the substantial transfers through the informal ‘undial’ system are not accounted for in the BoC’s figures..

And given the Rajapaksa government’s deliberate neglect of the people of the Vanni, without this community support it is likely that many in the region will simply starve.

As Harim Pieris, the former Presidential Spokesman notes:

‘The resettlement process is allegedly moving at a slower pace, the 50,000 Indian housing scheme is yet to get off the ground and no one else, and including the government or INGOs has built houses either. Accordingly the resettled Wanni civilians are living in temporary shelters and tents, unless personal resources enable rebuilding their own homes. With rural infrastructure for agriculture and fishing in the North destroyed in the fighting there is not much support for livelihoods either.’