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Hindu Press International
Wounded BBC Reporter Tells of Food Shortages in Tamil Areas of Sri Lanka
on 2001/7/14 23:47:02 ( 599 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, July 15, 2001: BBC reporter Marie Colvi, lost an eye to Singhalese army gun fire while crossing the from Tamil Tiger held areas of Sri Lanka to those under government control. She was attempting to get an authentic picture of conditions in the war-torn region. Reporters are barred by the Sri Lankan government from entering. Much of this article has to do with the treatment of her eye, but includes reports on the situation in Sri Lanka, including this: "On a smaller scale, however, the trip did seem to me worthwhile. I may be exhausted and haunted, but not all the images that flash back to me evoke dread. I remember a government agent in a town in the Vanni -- the region controlled by the LTTE -- who put his neck on the line just to give me information. He received me late at night in his office, very formal but resolute. He put a suit on and asked me not to reveal his name for fear of retaliation from the very government that paid his salary. He had facts and figures of the type that make on-the-ground reporting worthwhile. I wanted to resolve two contradictory stories: the government in Colombo claimed to be distributing food to Tamil civilians on the same monthly basis as the rest of the country, yet in village after village people told me they received little. Many were painfully thin. This government agent explained. He said he notified Colombo monthly that 36,400 families in his district (about 140,000 people) qualified for food aid. They sent him food for 8,900 families (about 35,000 people), claiming he had inflated his figures. 'So I hold the first shipment, and divide up what I have to distribute every two months,' he said. 'There is no basis for this misery.' "




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