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WFP operational update: Sri Lanka

Conflict returned to Sri Lanka in early August, with continuous fighting reported in the areas of Jaffna to the north and Trincomalee in the east. WFP is assisting those displaced.

Introduction

Conflict returned to Sri Lanka in early August, with continuous fighting reported in the areas of Jaffna to the north and Trincomolee in the east, prompting the rapid movement of as many as 174,000 persons displaced by the fighting in those areas.

Food distribution halted

The escalating conflict has severely hampered humanitarian assistance with food distribution coming to a halt in specific areas where fighting is active.

While WFP food assistance to IDPs in government-controlled areas is substantial, WFP food deliveries are unable to cross lines of conflict to reach displaced persons on the LTTE-controlled side, with the Government of Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence refusing WFP movement requests for operational and security reasons.

Displaced

WFP is presently providing food assistance to nearly 50,000 newly displaced persons from the Muttur area now living in the government-controlled Kantale area. They are living in up to 48 separate camps and settlements.

WFP food stocks in the Kantale area are enough for a further 15 days of distribution. An expansion of WFP transportation and shipment resources will be necessary for deliveries after that.

WFP is trying, with limited success, to reach newly-displaced persons in the LTTE-controlled areas, specifically, 14,000 persons who fled the fighting in the Muttur area to the LTTE-controlled area of Eachchilampattu, and about 35,000 persons who have moved further south and are now in the LTTE-controlled Vaharai division of the Batticaloa district.

Food security

Concerns have been raised both by the government and by humanitarian agencies regarding food security for the 450,000 residents of the northern peninsula area of Jaffna as well as the 300,000 residents of the LTTE-controlled Vanni area to the immediate south of Jaffna, where recent fighting has cut off regular routes of transport and communication.

Should the de facto blockade of trade and transportation links continue, WFP may have to substantially increase food deliveries and assistance to both areas.