Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Army distributes food items in Jaffna as Tigers threaten private traders

Amidst other duties and continuous tiger attacks, the Sri Lanka Army undertook to distribute essential food items in Jaffna following LTTE threats on private traders not to operate in the area. "None of the private traders are allowed to operate by the LTTE" the Essential Services Commissioner General, Mr. S. B. Divaratne said. According to ground sources, food items had been distributed through cooperatives which were easily influenced by the LTTE. "We will not allow only cooperatives to operate" Mr. S. B. Divaratne said. The Army will continue to assist in distributing food items equally among civilians.

The Army has already established six grocery stores in the Jaffna peninsular for the benefit of civilians who had no option other than to buy goods at exorbitant prices due to extortion by the Tigers. Goods at outlets opened by the Sri Lanka Army are sold at Colombo prices. The revenue generated is sent to the Government Agent of Jaffna.

According to the Ministry of Finance, The Government has ferried and air lifted 31,360 metric tons of food items to Jaffna up to 14th November 2006. The Government began transporting essential food items by sea and air since 15th August this year. The Transportation of food items and movement of civilians along the A 9 road was disrupted following the tiger attack on the Muhamalai forward defence lines on 8th August this year. A total of 16 voyages and 6 Air Force Flights have transported these food items to Jaffna so far. Air Force Flights from Ratmalana to Jaffna have air lifted around 118 MT of essential items. The Navy, despite facing fierce tiger suicide attacks at sea, continues to provide protection to all cargo ships carrying food items to Jaffna. Cargo ships sail with a Navy escort as the ICRC refused protection. According to Mr. Divaratne, finding ships was a challenge due to the security risks.

According to the Ministry of Finance a total of 12,742 MT of rice, 8546 MT of flour, 3479 MT of sugar, 1612 MT of dhal and 526 MT of milk food has already reached Jaffna. 1,191,600 litres of diesel, 169,000 litres of petrol and 263,400 litres of Kerosene has also been dispatched to Jaffna.

Essential items dispatched to Jaffna as at 14.11.2006

Rice: 12742 MT

White Flour: 8546 MT

Sugar: 3479 MT

Dhal: 1612 MT

Milk Food: 526 MT

Grocery Items: 1420 MT

Medicine:102 MT

Oxygen Cylinders: 112

Fuel - Stock Position

Diesel: 1,191,600 litres

Petrol: 169,000 litres

Kerosene: 263,400 litres

Food Items - Present Stock Position (including items dispatching in MV JEN CLIPPER whcih is sailing at present and MV HIND-M which is loading at Trinco Port)

Rice: 4320 MT

Dhal: 553.5 MT

Sugar: 1418.7 MT

Wheat Flour: 1352 MT

Cargo vessel, MV JEN CLIPPER which is sailing at present is carrying 638 metric tons of food. MV HIND-M with 900 metric tons of rice is being unloaded at Trincomalee. At present two more ships are unloading at Kankasanthurai and Point Pedro ports in Jaffna.