Sri Lanka’s crisis pushes war-shattered Tamils to the brink


Under a blazing sun, a 44-year-old Tamil labourer tended his rented patch of peanut field in Sri Lanka, striking his spade against the earth in a daily struggle to beat inflation that has put many necessities out of reach.”I have more difficulties than a daily wage labourer,” said Singaram Soosaiyamutthu, who moves around on the palms of his hands after an air strike in 2009 took both his legs and injured his left arm.That was during the last stages of a 26-year civil war between the Sri Lankan government and a militant group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Today’s economic crisis is a second blow for Soosaiyamutthu’s northern coastal district of Mullaitivu after the mostly Tamil population was ravaged by the war’s final offensive.Many residents work as daily labourers to get by, he said, but he cannot.”If I go for daily wage labour, nobody will hire me, and it’s also not possible for us to go and work like this, is it?” he asked.He worked as a fisherman before the economic crisis, Sri Lanka’s worst in seven decades, dried up fuel supplies, forcing him to turn instead to peanut farming to earn money.”Even if we have to control our own hunger, we can’t tell our children, ‘Look kid, this is all there is to eat, now just go to bed,’ can we?” he said.His family is among 6.2 million Sri Lankans estimated to be food insecure by a U.N. agency, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), as food inflation hit an eye-watering 93.7% last month.