WFP Ready For Sri Lankans Fleeing War Zone

WFP has pre-positioned food in the northern Vavuniya district of Sri Lanka to meet the needs of the tens of thousands of people who are fleeing the ‘safe zone’ along the north eastern coast of Mullaitivu.

by Heather Sutliff

COLOMBO -- Over the next few days, the population of IDP centres in Vavuniya and Jaffna district is expected to swell from 64,000 to more than 150,000 people and Sri Lankans affected by fighting move to government-controlled areas in the north and east. WFP has 800 metric tons in place ready to meet the growing need.

“WFP has enough food in position to be able to feed more than 100,000 people for two weeks,” said Adnan Khan, WFP Representative and Country Director in Sri Lanka.

He added that, in order to boost existing food stocks, a new convoy of 27 trucks carrying 400 metric tons of food is being prepared in Colombo.

Trapped in safe zone

Since February, with support from the Government, WFP has been providing mixed food commodities to the growing number of displaced people currently accommodated in transit camps and welfare villages in Vavuniya and Jaffna.

In addition to the food assistance provided to people in IDP centres, since February WFP has dispatched 2,200 metric tons of food via government-chartered sea vessels to people trapped in the safe zone.

A fourth WFP shipment of 1,000 metric tons of humanitarian food assistance and other complementary items is ready to depart Trincomalee port, in northeastern Sri Lanka, for the safe zone.

Committed to providing food

The government-chartered ship carrying WFP food and sailing under the flag of the International Committee of the Red Cross has been delayed since Monday due to increasing instability in the safe zone.

“WFP remains committed to providing humanitarian food assistance to people who remain trapped in the no-fire zone and we hope that conditions will permit the shipment to leave shortly,” added Khan.