Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Overall SituationThe UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on the Human Rights ofIDPs, Walter Kalin, visited Colombo on 28 February to 1 March, on anunofficial mission at the invitation of the National Protection and DurableSolutions for IDPs Project of the Human Rights Commission (HRC). In addition to giving a formal presentation on international IDP concerns at aforum in Columbo, he held informal meetings with government authorities, UNagencies and NGO representatives. According to WFP Security Office, a large number of civilian, including women, children, and students, held a calm demonstration in Jaffna that proceeded to Divisional Secretariat on 2 March. It was to protest both the recent killing of LTTE political cadres, and alleged discrimination in the provision of relief to Tsunami victims. The demonstrators delivered a letter to the UNHCR Office to be forwarded to the UN Secretary General, and also ones to the ICRC and SLMM.
Main challenges and response
According to UNICEF, the price of items on the local market has increasedconsiderably. Computers and generators, for example, are as much as doublethe price of equivalent goods from abroad even with the inclusion of freight charges. Domestic prices are increasing as a result of sizable purchases in response to the humanitarian emergency. There are also reportedly shortage of building materials. UNESCO, responding to a request by the Cultural Affair and National Heritage Ministry, has a team this week inspecting tsunami damage to WorldHeritage sites in Sri Lanka, especially in Jaffna and Galle Forts. UNICEF is facilitating a workshop on 4 March to develop guidelines, within existing government frameworks, for child sponsorship schemes. The workshop comes in the context of growing concern about apparent inequitable child sponsorship schemes being developed by some NGOs and agencies.
UNICEF reports that progress in the construction of transit camps is slow, most notably in the districts of the North East. As a result, many IDPs have been pitching tents on their own in areas with limited access to basic services. Reportedly, this is occurring in Jaffna, Batticaloa andTrincomalee. Furthermore, in Muthur division, Trincomalee, finding available land is difficult. In Echilampattai, where ample land exists, itis reported that roads are not suitable for the convenient delivery of relief items. A portion of UNICEF relief items was finally cleared by customs at the end of last week. Four gully emptiers, 1,500 tents, ten Landcruisers, five Maruti vans, one ambulance, and 124 motorbikes are among the items that have been released. The Government Agent's (GA) Office in Batticaloa agreed this week to requests by the Task Forces to establish a Working Group for the publication of the next GA's Information Bulletin. This will hopefully make a significant contribution in providing tsunami-affected populations in thearea additional information regarding relief and recovery activities that impact them.
Coordination and common services
Concern has been raised about condition in some camps: for example, inKallaru minimum standards of safety, security and basic needs are reportedly not being met, including inadequately constructed toilet facilities. UNHCR, along with other agencies, has offered to help rectify the situation. According to the agencies, the Kallaru camp situation highlights the need for increased monitoring to ensure quality control in project implementation.
The WFP reports that the Government is still in the process of registering tsunami affected people and has continued issuing additional cash/food coupons to the affected population. The total is now approximately 950,000. WFP has initiated discussions with the Government out of a concern that not all registered people are in need of food aid.
The Danish Red Cross has sent a specialist to Ampara to run a psycho-social counselling program in close cooperation with the regional health authorities and with volunteers from the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society. The program, the second in a series, aims at assisting people in the welfare centres and transit camps to come to terms with the loss of loved ones, and focuses particularly on psycho-social support for traumatised children. In the last two weeks, the ICRC has started distributing mail kits, consisting of stamps, envelopes, paper and pens to tsunami-affected families in key areas of the country, allowing them to stay in touch with relatives and at the same time provide them some psycho-social relief by expressing their concern and emotions regarding the disaster. Some 59,000 mosquito nets were dispatched by UNICEF to the districts overthe past two weeks - 20,0000 to Ampara, 12,000 to Batticaloa, 3,000 toGalle, 2,000 to Hambantota, 12,000 to Jaffna, 3,000 to Kalutara, and 2,000 to Matara. The Ministry of Health publicly presented the survey findings of the nutrition survey undertaken jointly by Medical ResearchInstitute/WFP/UNICEF at a meeting on 28 February. Some preliminary findingsf rom the survey indicate: 20 per cent of tsunami-affected children are stunted (height for age) compared to the national figure of 14 per cent; 16 per cent of children suffer from acute malnutrition (wasting) compared to a national figure of 14 per cent; The prevalence of acute malnutrition in the East (19.8 per cent) and West (18.1 per cent) were higher compared to the North (12.7 per cent) and South (12.8 per cent). More than two-thirds of under-five-year-olds were found to suffer from acute respiratory infections and nearly one in five children had diarrhoel diseases. Although the general food distribution for adults is adequate, children do not get appropriate supplementary food; Triposha - a blended food rich in micronutrients is only available to 14 per cent of under-five-year-old children. Although vitamin A capsules are readily available in the country, only 23 per cent of children received vitamin A supplements.
Water and sanitation
UNICEF has released a survey on the water and sanitation situation in IDP transit camps of tsunami-affected districts. Overall, the survey describes a relatively satisfactory situation. Nevertheless, the water supply and sanitation facilities are below national norms in some of the camps. According to this survey, the average size of camps is about 87 families. Batticaloa and Mullativu have some of the largest camps with single sites in the districts housing as many as 146 and 140 families, respectively. In total, there are 45 different agencies working in the water and sanitation sector. Coordination between stakeholders at the district level is reportedly good. Additional coordination efforts are required for the establishment of adequate hand washing and waste disposal facilities and for hygiene promotion.
Non-food items and shelter
In Vaddamarachchi East, an LTTE controlled part of Jaffna, 16 transition centers are being constructed. An additional 19 are nearly finished in theMullaitivu district. Some agencies are experiencing delays in finalising water and sanitation facilities and shelter construction. Various agencies have highlighted the urgency in completing this construction so people can move out of welfare centers, many of which are schools, so normal classescan resume again. IOM agreed to support the TAFOR (Task Force for Relief) Transitional Accommodation Project (TAP) in setting up five regional offices to coordinate shelter activities.IOM is providing office equipment, computers and transport to the TAP office in Matara where IOM is the lead agency onshelter activities.
IOM's contracted shelter engineer is finalising three different shelter designs. Model construction commence in Kalutara district in early March. Of the estimated 73,000 people in the Northern region that are living in camps or with friends and relatives, approximately 90 per cent of theTsunami displaced had previously been displaced due to the conflict. The large majority of these people were displaced more than once, leaving them in a particular vulnerable position with hardly anything left. All Government Agents in the Southern Province are moving quickly to establish transitional shelter for displaced persons given the approach of monsoon season.
In Batticaloa, a two-week, rapid assessment of obstacles faced by IDP families in getting children back to school is being conducted in all camps by five master counselors trained by GTZ, two graduate trainees, one child psychiatrist from MSF and a UNICEF staff member.In Trincomalee, 23,000 back-to-school leaflets have been printed -- 20,000in Tamil and 3,000 in Sinhala - and target both students and their parents. The leaflets are being used as part of community-level mobilizationactivities carried out by the Education Department and other organizations participating in the campaign. In Batticaloa, a start has been made in the process of vacating tsunami-affected families from schools and into transition camps. Through an exemplary consultative and participatory process by various agencies and the community, one school has already been successfully vacated. PrinceCharles, on his 28 February stop in Batticaloa, visited the transition shelter site for these transferred families. An effort is now underway to replicate this successful transfer. UNICEF has orders an additional 3,000 desks, 7,000 chairs and 175,000 meters of white school uniform fabric to be delivered in coming weeks to stitch approximately 100,000 school uniforms for children. UNICEF previously provided uniform material for some 107,000 school children.
IOM has officially started its livelihood programme for tsunami affectedpeople. In collaboration with the Southern Development Authority and the Industrial Development Board, IOM gave 16 carpenters in Matara district replacement toolkits enabling them to get back to work in community reconstruction projects. IOM also organized two workshops for the Presidents and Secretaries of six Camp Care Committees in shelter sites constructed by IOM in Matara district. The workshops trained participants in the preparation of project proposals for livelihood projects that could employ camp residents.
With regard to livelihoods in the fisheries sector: in Batticaloa, Cordaid is providing some 2,200 small boats between now and May to fishermen in thearea who lost such craft. These donations should adequately meet all demand in the area for such fishing vessels. ProtectionThe Protection/Psycho-social Task Force in Batticaloa is now offering training for police and military personnel working in camps. There has been some concern from IDPs and aid workers regarding an increased military presence in the camps, particularly at the entrances of camps. An IOM public information campaign warning of the dangers of human trafficking of persons displaced by the tsunami is on-going in IDP camps throughout Sri Lanka. Educational posters and leaflets -- 2,000 in Sinhalaand 3,000 in Tamil -- are being distributed.
Mine clearance of all transition camp sites, plus a surrounding 100 meter buffer zone, has been completed in both Mullaitivu and Vaddamarachchi. Itshould be noted that the Humanitarian Demining Unit (HDU) Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) and the Danish Demining Group (DDG) had completed the clearance remarking unnecessary. A few unexploded ordnance (UXO) was found in the wider vicinity of the camps areas. Mine Risk Education programmes are still required and ongoing.