The LTTE is said to be pressurizing International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) operating in rebel controlled areas of the Wanni to channel funds to be used for development purposes in the area through the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), the Daily Mirror has learnt.
Well informed sources also said two local staffers attached to an INGO operating in Kilinochchi were abducted by the LTTE some two weeks ago and subsequently released following pressure by the charity group which carried out large scale assistance programmes in the area.
The name of the INGO is however being withheld by the Daily Mirror as, when contacted, the organization said it was not aware if such an incident had taken place so it could not deny or confirm it. However, observers noted that a few months ago the LTTE had abducted two local UN employees as well but later released them following negotiations. The incident was kept under wraps until it was leaked to the media.
Meanwhile a Tamil family which had fled Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaitivu by boat early last morning were spotted by the Navy and taken to Trincomalee, a spokesman at the Government Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) told the Daily Mirror.
The family, which included a 21 year old boy, and two young girls, said the decision to flee LTTE territory was taken as the rebels were forcibly recruiting civilians for military combat purposes. The MCNS spokesman said this was the first time civilians had fled Mullaitivu by boat and more were expected.
INGOs are meanwhile refusing to concede to the LTTE demand to channel development funds through them and are even threatening to suspend operations if the pressure continues, an INGO source said. Most INGOs have strict policies against channeling funds through a third party.
They also fear that if funds are channeled through the TRO they may be misused for terrorism-related activities. The LTTE could not be contacted for a comment on the latest allegations. In late 2006, TRO funds were frozen by the Central Bank following allegations the money was being used for terrorist-related activities by the LTTE.
The TRO headquarters is based in Kilinochchi. After the signing of the ceasefire agreement in 2002 between the LTTE and the Government, the TRO was recognised by the Government as a legitimate NGO and granted NGO status.
A staggering four billion rupees the TRO had received for tsunami relief in January 2005 had dwindled to Rs 56.3 million by August last year, a Central Bank report said at the time. The TRO funds were frozen by the Central Bank on August 28.
In 2005 the British Charity Commission removed the TRO`s UK charitable status on the ground that it `had not been able to account satisfactorily for the application of funds`. Prior to the signing of the ceasefire agreement NGOs had to work in tandem with the TRO in the LTTE controlled areas in northern Sri Lanka.