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Government neglect plunges impoverished Vavuniya villagers towards starvation

Hundreds of villagers across the district of Vavuniya found to be living in very poor housing conditions in the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, are on the verge of dying from starvation as the government continues to neglect on providing support to these vulnerable villagers.

With the nationwide military-headed lockdown in place, villagers of which many are labourers, have become particularly vulnerable and struggling to even have afford one meal a day, due to the lack of income.

Their lives are left in a state of limbo as the Sri Lanka continues to deny them of the pledged emergency funds. Despite the state promising relief measures of Rs.5,000.00 per family, many villages across the North East including in the regions of Mullaitivu and Vavuniya, have not seen those funds.

Many of the villagers live in small, congested sheds often with multiple children as well. Some of these families are finding it difficult to even access basic necessities such as baby milk. As a result, many parents are prioritising their children’s health over their own and jeopardising their own lives.

The living situation was already very difficult for many of these villagers even before the pandemic, but the lockdown has made it even more challenging. Despite being displaced ten years ago and resettled, many of these villagers were not appropriately accommodated.

Their situation has yet to be addressed by any politician or state official and their calls for support have often gone ignored.

Diaspora groups and local communities who have attempted to aid these vulnerable villagers have often been blocked from doing so or found it difficult to be reached out to.

The villages in particular duress across Vavuniya include; Yeshpuram, Kristavakulam, Easwaripuram, Aachipuram, Thavasikulam, Kappachi, Veerapuram, Maraiyadithakulam and Vilakkuvaithakulam.

Regarding the situation, former Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran, insisted that this “very serious issue” and that the government not releasing the funds despite other local governments in the rest of the country doing so “is just an example of the disparity shown even during a pandemic like this!”

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