The disappearances and killings continue. Jaffna’s Guardian Association for Persons Arrested and Disappeared says that it has not been able to obtain any information about the 760 disappeared youths from meetings with senior military and Defence Ministry officers.
In June, habeas corpus applications were filed on 14 youths arrested on 19 July 1996 at Navatkuli. Sisters Thangarajah Langeswary and Ketheeswary arrested on 28 March in Jaffna have disappeared. Reports say the Army shot dead four civilians in Valikamam on 17 June.
The LTTE intensified operations in the peninsula in June. Three soldiers and two civilians in a bus were killed by a landmine at Ilavalai on 4 June. Suspected LTTE gunmen shot dead Chavakachcheri resident A Kumarasuriar in early June. In a landmine attack in the Chavakachcheri area on 13 June four soldiers were killed and eight others wounded.
Local NGOs have still not been allowed to operate and international NGOs are working under difficult conditions. British NGO Medical Emergency Relief International (MERLIN) closed its Jaffna office in early June after the Defence Ministry refused permission for radio equipment, says Tamil newspaper Virakesari. In late June representatives of UNHCR, FAO and UNDF visited Jaffna to assess the situation. UN refugee agency UNHCR has implemented 11 micro projects in 1997 and has called for NGO assistance to complete another 50 by December.
Another citizen's body, the Jaffna People’s Committee for Peace and Harmony warned of shortages of doctors and nurses at the Jaffna hospital which serves 36,000 patients each month, in a letter to the Health Ministry. The hospital also lacks modern equipment and needs 300 more beds. New senior health officers appointed to the peninsula’s hospitals have not taken up their posts.
Jaffna Cooperative Union Director S Sivanesarajah says bureaucracy is dangerously delaying food shipments. Cooperative shops where people are able to buy at prices fixed by the Government Agent (GA) receive only limited supplies of food. Over 90% of the food goes to private traders selling at exorbitant rates and the black market is thriving.
Reports say civil administration is unable to function independently, as all decisions are taken by the military at all levels. Retired Army officers have been appointed to senior administration positions. Continuing human rights abuses deter young people returning to Jaffna and observers say the local economy is critically short of labour.