Amnesty International (AI) is calling for urgent humanitarian aid for more than 300,000 people displaced by the ongoing conflict in the northern Wanni region of Sri Lanka. Turmoil between the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has left thousands of people, “in desperate need of shelter, food and sanitation.”
With the recent escalation of fighting and the approaching monsoon season, the civilian population of the Wanni region is facing a deepening crisis. Aid organizations are appealing to the government for entry into the area and delivering assistance that the government is unwilling or unable to provide. AI says that only “2,100 temporary shelters for 4,000 families have been provided, leaving at least 20,000 families in need of protection from the elements.”
The Wanni region is one of the last remaining strongholds of the LTTE, who allegedly are using the civilians as cover from the government for their actions. The population has been, “forced out of their homes and are living in camps in areas controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels” and are restricted from moving to safer locations.
“The abuses carried out by the rebels make our call for international monitors to be allowed to visit conflict-affected areas even more pressing,” the AI statement said.
In addition to the government’s failure to provide aid, it has seized some 71 million rupees (about $645,000) from the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO). The government claims that the funds were directed toward financing terrorist activities and not for humanitarian aid projects in Sri Lanka.
According to a TRO press release, “75% of the “forfeited” funds…were donated by the United Nations, international NGOs, foreign governments and the Government of Sri Lanka itself” with the purpose of assisting those displaced by the 2004 tsunami and the current crisis in the Wanni region. TRO is calling for the funds to be returned to the international NGOs or UN so it can be directed toward its original intentions.