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WFP Assists 190,000 Sri Lankans Fleeing War Zone

WFP is now feeding nearly 190,000 internally displaced persons in the northern Vavuniya and Jaffna districts. An estimated 120,000 of these IDPs arrived over the last ten days after escaping the conflict zone in Mallaitivu.

by Heather Sutliff

COLOMBO – WFP ramped up its assistance after receiving a request from the Government of Sri Lanka to support its efforts in meeting the basic needs of this massive influx of IDPs. The IDPs are being assisted in more than 40 transit centres and 'welfare villages' set up in Vavuniya and Jaffna.

“WFP has enough resources to provide food to the IDPs in the short-term, but this is a very dynamic situation and to maintain much needed food assistance we are appealing for funds from the international community now,” said Adnan Khan, WFP Representative and Country Director in Sri Lanka.

Regular dispatches of food

WFP is providing a food basket consisting of rice, wheat flour, lentils, sugar, vegetable oil and corn-soya blend (CSB). In addition, children under 5 and pregnant and lactating women received supplemental rations of CSB.

Routine dispatches of WFP food assistance are being dispatched via land to boost stocks in WFP’s Vavuniya hub. A shipment of more than 1,000 metric tons of mixed food commodities was sent via sea to enhance stocks in Jaffna this week.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people remain trapped in the conflict zone. Intensive fighting over the last week has prevented larger ships from offloading badly needed humanitarian assistance there.

Shipments to conflict area

With the support of the government, over the last three days, two small vessels carrying 30 metric tons of food sailed to the conflict area. Each shipment provides enough food to feed 60,000 people for a day.

“We appreciate government and ICRC assistance in sending desperately needed food to people in the conflict zone. WFP is committed to sending food to civilians as long as they remain trapped there,” said Khan.

Since February when the government opened up a sea route, WFP has sent more than 2,200 metric tons of food to people in the conflict zone.