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DateLine Friday, 26 December 2008

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Government Gazette

No food shortage in Vanni

 Tigers using tents, tarpaulins for combat purposes

74,618 metric tons of essentials sent

The Government yesterday re-assured that humanitarian assistance to civilians living in non-liberated areas of Vanni would continue un-interrupted, despite difficulties posed by vagaries of the weather, terrorist activities and bad road conditions.

Confirming there was no food shortage in the Vanni, Essentials Services Commissioner S.B. Divarathne said the Government was getting the fullest cooperation of all stakeholders including the WFP andICRC in the endeavor to provide supplies to the civilians.

Since August this year, the Government with the help of other stakeholders had sent 74,618 metric tons of essentials to the area. In addition, 90 per cent of the food parcels sent by India too had been delivered, he added.

According to Divaratne, there had been 8,528 lorry loads of food sent to Vanni during this period.

In addition, the Government was keeping a buffer stock of 3,000 metric tons in Vavuniya to meet any emergency.

Quoting independent figures, Divarathne said that nearly 250,000 people were living in the non-liberated areas mainly in Mullaveli, Dharmapuram, Kandaveli and Pudikudirippu. Out of this figure nearly 100,000-125,000 are believed to be displaced, he noted.

Furthermore, in addition to food, 99 per cent of medical supplies needed for hospitals in the area too had been dispatched, he said.

Commenting on the shortage of shelter material, Divarathne said that the Government had decided not to send tents and tarpaulins as they had received reliable information that the Tigers were using them for combat purposes.

As an alternative measure, the Government has decided to send thatched cadjan as shelter material. A total of 200,000 Cadjan sheets would be sent there shortly, he added. In addition the Government was planning to send kerosene, school books and other necessities soon, Divaratne said.

He also pointed out that despite Tiger claims, it was the Government that provided essential supplies to civilians and that the Government mechanism of utilising cooperatives, administration, hospitals etc is functioning as usual.

During October, the Government had spent Rs.117 million to repair dilapidated roads and streamline the delivery process as international organizations had refused to attend deliveries citing practical difficulties,, Divarathne added.

Commenting on the situation in Jaffna, Divarathne said despite having to face the most severe floods recorded in 50 years, the Government has brought the situation under control within a short period of time.

In Jaffna too there is no shortage of food or other essentials, he added.

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