Petition sent to the Mannar Divisional Secretary
Hundreds of locals in the village of Uppukulam in Mannar have been left without their state-designated COVID-19 relief items after they were handed out to a select few favoured personnel instead.
The villagers collectively signed a petition addressed to the Mannar Divisional Secretary which stressed that it was the “responsibility of the officials to distribute desperately needed items to those in need.” The petition demanded an immediate inquiry into the misappropriation of COVID-19 relief items.
Due to COVID-19 affecting the locals' livelihoods, relief items were provided by government and state-aligned organisations to aid until normalcy resumed.
The villagers complained that the items were only distributed to families on a list that was provided by one individual and stated this individual of ignoring the many people in need and instead directing items to their family and close associates. As a result, many of the women-led households and those with disabilities did not have access to any relief, whilst other affluent and privileged households receiving supplies.
Earlier in June, self-isolating families in Mannar were pushed to the brink of starvation as the Sri Lankan government failed to provide the delivered COVID-19 relief items. The Sri Lankan government had reported that it would provide dry food items worth 10,000 LKR to isolating families, however, families within the Mannar district have only received 5,000 LKR worth of dry food rations. Rations are also reaching families around 10-12 days after their isolation has begun, leaving many families without basic necessities up until that time.
A year into the pandemic families across the North-East have been rendered jobless due to the travel bans and have been pushed to the point of starvation and mental exhaustion. In June, Amnesty International condemned Sri Lanka's discriminatory COVID-19 response, calling attention to the prioritisation of those with economic or political privilege at the expense of at-risk groups.