Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The civilians of Vakarai started to flee for their lives in December 2006. They are spending their lives in the makeshift shelters in Batticaloa.

There are 950 families-1,553 persons living in Maavadivempu welfare camp. The camp is cramped with people sitting under trees, and outside their plastic tents. These stretch of tents are put next to each other, where there is hardly any space in between.

The place is very hot and dusty. People find it difficult to stay in the tents during the day time. They escaped the crossfire, now their worry is about their missing loved ones, left belongings and the future for their children
"I lost my brother in the recent fighting.I have suffered a lot during the war. I do not want to witness another bloody war" says Ponnuthural Puvanendran (60), who was displaced from Kadatkarachchenai in Sampoor
Civilians from the coastal hamlet called "Vakarai" had been living under the control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for ten years
The agony of the refugees continues
"I left my house in Sampoor in April 2006. I was driven from my house due to the violence.Then I went to Vakarai by foot along with my elderly parents. I had to leave Vakarai with my parents to Batticaloa due to heavy fighting by both sides. I am still single. I have to find an employment to take care of my eldrely parents, and marry later" says Vijitha Kathiresapillai (29)
Refugees manage to cook with available ingredients and share the meals with the family members
Most of them have been on the move for more than twenty years
"We witnessed our village reduced to rubble,while we were fleeing" say the refugees from Vakarai
The refugees request the warring parties to respect and implement the ceasefire agreement for them to live free from fear in their villages
Men and women, who do not know each other are forced to share the same makeshift
There is uncertainty and fear about returning to their homes
There is a sense of frustartion among the refugees that how long they have to live in the makeshift shelter
The refugees complain that their powerless voices are not heard anywhere