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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Friday, April 01, 2005

Humanitarian Situation Report - 25 - 31 March

ReliefWeb � Document Preview: "Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Date: 31 Mar 2005

Overall Situation

The latest government figures, from 24 March, put the total number of tsunami-related IDPs at 516,130 with 95,824 housed in 262 camps and 420,306 staying with family and friends. The highest numbers of IDPs are in Galle, Ampara and Trincomalee.

Clashes between the Special Task Force (STF) and LTTE on 28 March resulted in protests and unrest in the camps of Ampara, including the burning of tyres and blocking of roads. UNICEF reported that the clashes took place following the LTTE recruitment of a child who then ran away and sought protection with the STF. The STF arrested the LTTE cadre and clashes ensued. The UNICEF office in Ampara was informed of the abduction of two other children by the LTTE on 27 March. UNICEF is monitoring the situation closely and meeting with various counterparts to ensure the protection of children in camps.

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has called for tightening the grip against possible large scale corruption in the post tsunami reconstruction. The NGO said the three-month anniversary of the tsunami is a "time to take stock of the reconstruction process and the national and international commitment towards the rebuilding efforts." TISL urges all political leaders, political parties and groups to act with responsibility to give highest priority to the post tsunami reconstruction effort, while providing the victims with the assurance that their voices would be considered in the process.

Coordination and common services

IOM transport assistance during the past week to the Government of Sri Lanka, international agencies, NGOs and other organizations included a total of 69 lorries of medical equipment and relief supplies -- 40 for the Ministry of Health; ten for CARE International; six for OXFAM; five for IFRC; seven for other NGOs, and one for the Prime Minister's Office. In addition, five vans were provided to the Commissioner General of Essential Services to be used for relief work for the next two months.

According to UNICEF, little progress has been made in moving its relief supplies from the Colombo seaport over the course of the week. Most items have been authorised for clearance by customs officials, but they wait in the port for inspection by Navy officials.

Food security

The World Food Programme reports the total number of tsunami-affected people receiving food assistance amounts to 950,000 with WFP providing assistance to 915,000 of them.

WFP has provided 25,907 metric tones of food since the tsunami struck.

WFP and World Vision launched on 22 March, a school-feeding programme for students between the ages of five-and-ten years of age. The programme provides school children with 500g oil and 500g sugar from World Vision. WFP provides 6kg of corn soya blend (CSB) per child. In Galle district, the programme targets 30 schools reaching 10,000 students. This is a one-time only allotment with students provided with a two-month take-home ration package of CSB.

WFP is transporting supplies of nutritious biscuits to all districts affected by the tsunami in preparation for a school feeding programme in those areas which is scheduled to begin at the end of April.


In Ampara, the local health service is coordinating the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets by a number of agencies including: UNICEF, 20,000 nets, GOAL, 20,000, Merlin, 2,450, MSF, 3,900, ICRC, 5,000, LIONS, 15,000 and Medair 4,268. The total mosquito net requirement for the district is 83,802.

The Department of Health, following an IOM request, supplied Samaposha, a local nutritional food aid, which IOM staff distributed to children under three-years old and pregnant women in Soodaikudah IDP camp, Muthur, Trincomalee district.

The NGO Merlin has started a pilot project in Kalmunai Division for the treatment of medical waste. This model may be replicated in Batticaloa in the future as well.

Water and sanitation

UNICEF has created a form to collect information to record water and sanitation activities within all divisions of Galle district. CHF has distributed the forms in Balapitiya and Ambalangoda and is in the process of making sure the survey is completed in all divisions.

In Batticaloa district, a bathing area has been completed for a transitional IDP camp in Aarayampathy. Two other bathing facilities are currently under construction. Buckets were distributed to 73 families who were previously staying with friends and family and suddenly moved to the camp.

Shelter and non-food items

Seven recent graduates of a training programme in Colombo run by the Transitional Accommodation Project (TAP) have been assigned to TAP offices in Galle District. Two of the graduates will be placed in the Government Agent's office to deal with administrative issues, and the others will be placed in division offices. The principal duties of the TAP graduates will be to assess the suitability of land for resettlement and assess the status of camps.

IOM reports that it has constructed a total of 945 temporary shelters to date, including 364 in Ampara, 130 in Batticaloa, 180 in Trincomalee, 203 in Matara, and 68 in Kalutara. It has also constructed 18 temporary school structures including 13 in Ampara and five in Batticaloa. IOM has also constructed 148 toilets, 58 showers and various communal areas, children's play areas, and health centres.

The Women's Coalition for Disaster Management (WCDM) in Batticaloa has issued an appeal for more thorough consultation, particularly with regard to the construction of shelters in Thiraimadu. WCDM urged that the tsunami- affected communities should be involved in decision-making about their resettlement sites, allocation of plots as well as the design and construction of shelters.


Alliance Development Trust is distributing 2,000 school kits to the Paddiruppu Zonal schools. They are cooperating with the zonal department of education for the distribution.

To date, UNICEF plans to construct a total of 227 temporary school shelters. Eighty-two of them have already been built.

Adopt Sri Lanka, a Galle District NGO, is assisting the Ministry of Education and local school authorities by assessing the needs of schools in the district for additional assistance.

Over 76,000 lunch boxes, water bottles and pencil cases have been distributed over the past two weeks by UNICEF for use by school children in all districts. In Trincomalee, UNICEF has distributed 77 steel cupboards to 38 tsunami-affected and child-friendly schools in the district for the storage of school material.


In a ceremony on 20 March at the Fisheries Department in Batticalao, CORDAID handed over 250 fishing nets to those fishermen who still possess boats. Another distribution of both boats and nets will take place next month for those who lost everything.

Vocational training programmes are being conducted in such trades as carpentry, masonry, house wiring, welding, plumbing, aluminum fitting, motor rewinding and tailoring in Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee districts by WUSC, YMCA, Technical College, WWDF, PADRO, and Sarvodaya. The training is for unemployed youth and women, for both pre-tsunami and tsunami-affected IDPs. The courses which normally runs six-to-nine months are being shortened to respond to the immediate demand for skilled trade laborers who are much needed in the reconstruction process.


Four times more women than men were killed in some areas hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami, according to a report recently issued by Oxfam Community Aid Abroad. The report says such losses amongst the female population will creating long-term social problems for devastated communities as they try to rebuild. The report suggests the imbalance in deaths occurred because many men were working inland or fishing offshore when the waves hit, while the women were at home. It also said men are more likely than women to know how to swim and to climb trees to reach safety. The report was based on research carried out by Oxfam in local communities devastated by the tsunami in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. In Sri Lanka, camp surveys suggested a "serious imbalance" in the number of men and women that survived, the Oxfam report said, and called for aid agencies to be aware of the gender imbalance when planning disaster relief operations.

As of 24 March, 27 unaccompanied children, 1,271 separated children, and 3,930 children who lost one parent had been registered, according to UNICEF. Follow-up work on these children is progressing well. Also by 24 March, follow-up visits had been conducted for 26 unaccompanied children, for 1,042 separated children and for 1,537 children who lost one parent. Some 221 separated children and 52 children who lost one parent are now benefiting from Fit persons court orders.

Three trishaws have been supplied by UNICEF to the probation offices in Galle, Hambantota, and Matara Districts to facilitate their child protection work, including the follow-up of unaccompanied and separated children and of children with one parent. Two additional trishaws have been ordered for Tangalle and Balapitya and are expected for delivery shortly."

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