Appeal For $ 700,000 Aid for Sri Lankan Drought Victims

International Federation of Red Cross.


Mr. Bob, of the International Red Cross Federation, stationed in New Delhi has appealed for funds from the public and countries, targeted at US$700,000. Explaining his appeal to the BBC on 13 August 2001 (World News; 00GMT), he said that rains have failed during the last 21 months in Sri Lanka affecting about 300,000 people in the South. According to him, the worst drought in several decades, has failed paddy and home garden crops over several seasons.

Mr. Bob said, men have migrated to urban areas seeking alternate jobs leaving women and children to fight for survival. He added that they are just surviving while children are getting malnourished and unable to attend school and getting underweight. If this targeted amount is reached, he hopes to help at least 60,000 of the worst hit with at least 50% of their needs.

It is indeed a pathetic scene - Victims of Natural Causes!

The BBC asked Mr. Bob if the Government was not helping them. He answered that the Government was trying to help, but was unable to meet the needs as it had too many things on its plate – with a war consuming lot of money.

This reminds me of Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, the warlords fought a no-win bitter war while people died in hundreds of thousands due to starvation. In Sri Lanka, President Chandrika, the accredited Sinhala deity of war, who is also the Minister of Finance, is pumping huge amounts of money daily into a no-win war, only for commis–kakkas (Commission hawks) of the irretrievably corrupt Armed Forces to swallow a major slice of the allocations.

At least, the burnt-out warlords in Ethiopia allowed Eritrea to look after itself, and has just begun to look at the massive starvation deaths of the time past.

President Chandrika, on the other hand, is on the verge of allowing Sinhalese to die of starvation, as she cannot retract from her first priority of – The War.

President Chandrika has, by sidelining Norway’s peace efforts demonstrated that war at any cost, and NOT Peace and Prosperity, is her first PRIORITY. So much so that, the innocent humble peace-loving Sinhalese peasants have to be bailed out of starvation and death by the International Community through the good offices of the International Federation of Red Cross.

Human lives are precious, and let not even one Sinhalese peasant, who fed millions through the ages, die of starvation.

President Chandrika, however, continues to delight in the starvation and killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka on a daily basis. Now innocent Sinhalese are also her victims.

The contributors must expressly tell the International Federation of Red Cross that disbursement must be under the supervision of IFRC and that it should NOT be given to the Government as the Government will only canalize it to the war front.

Precautions must also be taken to see that the Taliban type organisations like the NMAT and SVV do not appropriate any of these funds. These organisations are raising funds internationally through Sinhala expatriate organisations like USLA under various pretexts.

In this context the contributors, and the beneficiary Sinhala peasants, must take note of one thing – the suffering imposed on the Tamils by the embargo on food and medicine in Tamil areas of Sri Lanka.

In 1996, soon after the occupation of Jaffna by the Sinhala forces, medicine, infant food and (and also blood) were collected in Tamil Nadu by the Indian Red Cross to be sent to the suffering Tamils in Jaffna through the ICRC. But Sri Lanka’s peace-breaker and much talkative foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar refused to accept them and instead wanted only food items. This was vouched by Sarojini Varadappan of the Indian Red Cross and former Tamil Nadu Minister of Health, Arkadu Veerasamy in press releases in 1997.

But as usual, the Indian food aid meant for Tamils in Jaffna did not reach Jaffna.

When Jaffna was under siege by LTTE in mid – 2000, and President Chandrika sent an SOS to save her 25,000 Sinhala soldiers, there were media reports that blood was collected from Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu Refugees camps and sent to save the injured Sinhala soldiers. But the Indian Government denied this – perhaps out of courtesy to save Sri Lanka’s skin.

Everyone needs to know that there is a brutal embargo on food and medicine in Tamil areas imposed by President Chandrika resulting in:

  1. Deaths at hospitals, including Jaffna Teaching Hospital, due to lack of ordinary medicines, oxygen and even incubators.
  2. Post surgical pain due to lack of medicine to alleviate the pain (anaesthetics/analgesics).
  3. Premature births, under weight births – most of them dying.
  4. Undernourished children unable to attend school.
  5. Children unable to attend school, as they have to help the family to find food.
  6. School buildings destroyed, or turned into Shelters for Refugees or Army camps.
  7. Schools without furniture, forcing students to sit on mats supplied by UNICEF and teachers to stand. Students lying on mats answer public Exams.
  8. Lack of employment and a means of livelihood.

Efforts by ICRC and MSF to take medicine and equipment are turned down, and ordinary soldiers at the checkpoints confiscate even those approved by Ministry of Defence.

This is an opportune time for contributors to tell President Chandrika that it is time to lift the embargo of food and medicine in Tamil areas. And also to tell the Sinhalese peasants that no executive power can impose embargo on the rule of Karma. The Sinhala Peasants must demand in one voice the lifting of embargo on food and Medicine in the Tamil areas to attain NIBBANA.

D. Rajan
New Zealand
26th August 2001