A recently leaked World Bank report indicated that around 1.07 lakh people went missing during the war between LTTE and Sri Lankan government, according to former BBC Correspondent Frances Harrison, who was stationed in Colombo between 2000 and 2004.
Harrison, who was in Chennai for the launch of the Tamil translation of her book ‘Still Counting the Dead - Survivors of Sri Lanka’s Hidden War’, told Express on the sidelines of the launch that the reports of the United Nations on the count of people killed during the Lankan war widely differed from the Petrie Report and the recently leaked World Bank report that was accessed by the author.“World Bank population data from Lanka indicates that up to a hundred thousand Tamils are unaccounted for after the final war against the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, raising questions about whether they could be dead,” she said. “A UN report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts states that around 40,000 civilians were killed during the climax of the war in 2009. But a UN internal inquiry last month said for the first time that around 70,000 civilian deaths was possible.” The figures mentioned in the leaked World Bank report, which was accessed by Express from the author, were indeed baffling.
It estimates that the number of people who returned to the conflict torn area in the north of the island in mid-2010 was a little over 1.15 lakh (28,899 households, each household having about four persons). As the baseline figure, the report cites the Statistical Handbook Numbers (probably the data of Sri Lankan government) and says that in 2007, before the war intensified, the region had 54,336 households (estimated population of over 2.17 lakh). The two sets of data reveals that as many as 1,01,748 people disappeared from Mullaitivu district alone - the area that bore the brunt during the final months of war. “The same conclusion can be drawn when comparing the 2010 World Bank data with the Census numbers of 2006,” Harrison added.
“Between 2007 and 2010, there was natural population growth as babies being born. Also, there are chances that people might have fled to countries of the Far East as refugees,” Harrison asserted.