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‘People are near starvation’ in North-East warns Sumanthiran

Former Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran warned that a military enforced curfew had left people in the North-East “near starvation”, whilst Sri Lankan government bodies have refused to release emergency funds in the region.

“The situation in the North and the East is precarious at the moment,” Sumanthiran said in an interview earlier this month. “Some people are near starvation. Local authorities that are best equipped to deal with this situation are not being allowed to uplift the funds they have saved and kept precisely for situations like this!”

He went on to state though both the leader of the TNA R Sampanthan and himself have spoken to the Governor of the East, “they have not granted their consent” to access the necessary funds.

“This is a very serious issue,” Sumanthiran continued. “Either the government must grant reliefs to the most vulnerable sections or at least allow the local government institutions to do that.”

“Local authorities in the North and East have emergency funds in fixed deposits for situations such as this. However, they need the concurrence of the Commissioner for Local Government(CLG) to uplift or withdraw those. So far the Governors of both provinces have refused to permit the CLGs to uplift those moneys. I hear that the local authorities in the rest of the country are spending monies on relief measures, prompting the Election Commission to issue directives as to how this should be utilized.

“The issue about not letting local authorities to serve the people with their own emergency funds in the North and East, while permitting it in the other parts of the country is just an example of the disparity shown even during a pandemic like this! Relief measures of Rs.5,000.00 per family announced by the government has reached some people in there other parts of the country but none in the North or East! The President seems to be very conscious of the votes he received or did not receive from those parts of the country. This is very unfortunate.”

See the full text of his interview here.

Many people across the North-East - especially villagers such as in Vavuniya and Mullaitivu - have become particularly vulnerable and on the verge of starvation in the midst of the pandemic, with the government still not releasing the promised emergency relief measures. 

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