While continuing to feed almost 200,000 people displaced by fighting in northern Sri Lanka, WFP has now started providing cooked meals to the thousands of Sri Lankans who are reaching the town of Omanthai from the conflict zone.
COLOMBO – The cooked meals are being provided at the government screening point in Omanthai, through which internally displaced persons (IDPs) pass before being transferred to temporary transit centres in the Vavuniya and Jaffna districts.
“For many, this will be the first hot meal they have had in days or perhaps much longer,” said Adnan Khan, WFP Representative in Sri Lanka, adding that a new wave of more than 3,000 people reached Omanthai overnight.
Northern Sri Lanka
White arrows show movement of IDPs away from conflict zone. Click map to enlarge.
The IDP population is expected to increase rapidly as the Sri Lankan security forces advance into the small strip of land on the northeast coast where an estimated 50,000 people have been caught up in the fighting.
Prepositioned food stocks
WFP is dispatching mixed food commodities to Omanthai from prepositioned stocks at its Vavuniya logistics hub. The expansion of humanitarian assistance is a part of WFP’s ongoing efforts to assist the Government of Sri Lanka in providing needed food to tens of thousands of people displaced by fighting in northern Sri Lanka.
The government and WFP’s local NGO partner, Sevelanka, are responsible for cooking and distributing food at Omanthai. The International Organization for Migration with support from UNICEF is responsible for providing water for drinking and cooking.
WFP is currently feeding almost 200,000 IDPs in northern Sri Lanka. They are located in some 24 government-controlled temporary transit centres and villages in Vavuniya, Jaffna, Mannar and Trincomalee districts.
Increased hostilities in the conflict zone over the last month have restricted the amount of food and other humanitarian assistance that could be sent to the conflict zone. No major shipment of food has reached the conflict zone since 1 April. Smaller quantities of food have reached the conflict zone with the support of the government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Since 12 May, with the support of the government and ICRC, three attempts to deliver food by ship, including a 500 metric ton shipment, enough to feed 50,000 people for 20 days, have been unsuccessful because the security situation on the ground has prevented offloading.
In light of the growing humanitarian needs, WFP is appealing to its donors for an additional US$41.5 million to meet the rapidly increasing needs of internally displaced Sri Lankans.