Reports by humanitarian workers inside and outside of the war ravaged Northern part of Sri Lanka are reporting terrible misery of civilians having to move multiple times, within the last few days or weeks alone.
One such report on the plight of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Tharmapuram says, the large numbers of civilians are forced to move from here which was one of the largest concentrations of IDPs in the district. The area has come under intense Sri Lanka Army artillery in the first two weeks of January according to civil society sources.
The full report:
A large percentage of the IDP population that had sought refuge in other parts of Kilinochchi had ended up in Tharmapuram by October 2008. The Kilinochchi District Secretariat moved too and functioned in temporary sheds in Tharmapuram. By end of 2008, even the Kilinochchi District hospital was forced out of its new building in Kilinochchi town by SLA shelling attacks and moved to Tharmapuram branch hospital.
Paranthan-Mullaithivu Road Through Tharmapuram
Effectively IDPs from Mannar District, Vavuniya North and other parts of Kilinochchi District were packed into Tharmapuram. The Paranthan-Mullaithivu Road that is in a very poor state had become a very busy and hazardous road with buses, tractors, motorbikes, cyclists, food convoys and school children crowding the streets. Being the rainy season even the cows and dogs wanted to occupy the dry parts of the road. The stretch of this road running through Tharmapuram had thus become a location for many fatal road accidents.
It was this Thramapuram that was hit by many SLA fired shells since 8 January 2009. Since then there have been, three instances of shell explosions in the middle of IDP settlements in Tharmapuram causing serious casualties. There have been at least six deaths and thirty two injuries in Tharmapuram over these five days. Among those killed are two children under the age of 15 and one old person over the age 60. Among those injured are six children under the age of 15 and eleven old persons over the age of 60. Among the total of 38 victims, in these shelling attacks over the five days on Tharmapuram IDP population, 19 are females.
The exodus from Tharmapuram
By 11 January the exodus from Tharmapuram had began. When shells began to explode near the displaced Kilinochchi hospital in Tharmapuram it too was forced out. The already crowded road had now become virtually packed with moving tractors loaded with household possessions. The poor condition of the road and heavily loaded tractor s, every few hundred meter vehicles brokedown with their heavy load adding to the mayhem. With injuries caused by shell explosions on the increase all around Vanni, even ambulances were stuck for hours in this road mayhem.
Three days old IDP shelters in Theravil
Frightened by the increased level of death and injuries caused by shelling, the movement of masses of people however, continued and people were again living under trees this time from Theravil onwards away from Tharmapuram.
Selvarasa Selvy had been moving since the start of 2008, beginning from Thadchanamadu in Mannar. She had moved to Periyamadu in Mannar, then successively to Kanesapuram, Vannerikulam, Murippu, and Kalmadu in Kilinochchi District and is presently under trees in Theravil in the Mullaithivu District. She knows Milton aged 15, who were killed in the claymore on a school bus in January 2008 in Thadchanamadu. Anita aged 16 also injured in the same attack is her niece. Their relative Thambaih Tharmalingam aged 45 was killed a few days ago by aerial bombing and his family was mourning his death under trees in Theravil. His body and his family had since been moved to a building to hold his funeral. Selvy and the boys have too much to worry and are not able to go to the funeral.
Balasubramanium Kamaleswari, originally from Jaffna, moved with family to Kilinochchi in 1996. They ended up living in Mallavi and they have accumulated a large herd of cows, goats and poultry. After the recent military attacks they moved to Skanthapuram, then to Kilinochchi and then to Tharmapuram and have ended up in Theravil. Though the family tried to move their livestock with them all of it have either died or have been lost.
Thilakeswaran Thiresa is from Parathipuram in Kilinochchi. They moved to Akkarayan in 1996. After the recent military attacks, they moved to Utrupulam then to Kalmadu and then to Nethaliyaru where they stayed at the GTMS school. A shell exploded inside the school grounds on 11 January and her aunt, Elumalai Manonmani, was injured in her thigh and is still in the hospital. Her family has also ended up under trees in Theravil.