Foreign assistance for IDPs:
Waiting for Godot

We are not short of people both here and abroad who weep buckets for the displaced Tamil civilians living in welfare centres. Those unfortunate civilians were once used by the LTTE as a human shield to further its macabre interests. Now, it seems that the diasporic Tigers and their foreign backers reeling from their collective failure to rescue Prabhakaran and his cohorts as well as an ignominious defeat they suffered at the UNHRC special session in Geneva at the hands of little Lanka are using IDPs as a bludgeon to beat the Rajapaksa government.

A section of the British media is functioning as an army of shock troops for the Brown government hell bent on initiating a war crime probe against Sri Lanka. The world is being told a diabolical lie of Goebbelsian proportions that about 1,400 IDPs die weekly in the Vanni welfare centres. This figure works out to about 200 deaths a day and if that is the case there must be at least 50 funerals at each of the four IDP centres! Nothing could be more absurd than these figures that are being bandied about and beamed across the globe.

Before the invasion of Iraq, it may be recalled, similar lies were propagated by the British and American governments through their unofficial propaganda organs. The world was told that Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction, they posed a threat to the global community and therefore he had to be stopped in his tracks. Iraq was invaded and Hussain hanged. And the truth is now known. There were no WMDs!

If the West and the Tamil Diaspora have any concern for the war displaced, instead of expending time and energy on a witch hunt against Sri Lanka, they ought to make a meaningful intervention to help those people. After all, it is the Diaspora that funded LTTE terrorism and plunged civilians into misery.

That looking after nearly three hundred thousand IDPs is a Herculean task goes without saying. Their resettlement is likely to take a month of Sundays as demining and the on-going search for hidden weapons are far from over. The LTTE turned the area under its control into a minefield in a futile bid to thwart the army's advance and people cannot be sent back home until the all clear is given by deminers and the military.

Caches of weapons and other war like materials are unearthed in the Vanni almost on a daily basis. Yesterday, we reported that a massive arms haul consisting of over 400 sophisticated assault rifles and an assortment of other weapons had been recovered from a deep well in Puthukuduyirippu. The Vanni is believed to be full of buried arms caches as the LTTE hid most of its weapons and fled with a view to returning, retrieving weapons and attacking the army from behind. Its plan went awry.

Meanwhile, suppliers of food to the IDP centres are on the warpath as they have not been paid for months to the tune of 500 million rupees. The day may not be far off when they discontinue supplies.

The most convenient thing for anyone to do is to berate the government given to colossal waste of public funds. While food suppliers are demanding their dues and doctors are without accommodation in the Vanni for want of funds from the Health Ministry, plans are being drawn up for a mega housing scheme for parliamentarians. Politicians seem to have all the luck! Ministers are also multiplying like rabbits! Yes, the government needs to be bashed for many things but that is not going to solve the burning problems of the hapless IDPs. Before indulging in the pleasurable pursuit of hauling politicians over the coals, critics of the government including western powers should honour their promises to help the war displaced.

The need of the hour is not for western governments and their media cronies to cry blue murder about deaths that are not occurring in IDP centres in the Vanni but to help make lives of the displaced less miserable. Nothing is so freely given as pledges. Sri Lanka had enough and more of them in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster and only a few of them were honoured. (Even the Tokyo Co-Chairs are yet to translate their 4.5 billion dollar aid pledge into hard cash!) The only way they can prove that their humanitarian concerns are genuine is to assist in the task of providing for IDPs and rebuilding their war-torn lives.

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