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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. 

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Humanitarian Situation Report - Sri Lanka: 6- 12 May 2005

ReliefWeb: 12/05/2005"

Overall Situation

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Asma Jahangir, who was on a ten-day mission to Sri Lanka from 2 May concluded her visit here today. She was invited by the Government of Sri Lanka to analyze the situation of freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka and will submit a report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights which will include conclusions and recommendations to the Government as well as to the international community. During her stay in the country in addition to Colombo she traveled to many parts of the country including Homagama, Kandy, Batticaloa, Ampara, Jaffna and Killinochchi and also met with Government officials including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Justice Minister, the Minister of Constitutional Affairs and the Ministers responsible for the different political parties as well as with the leader of the opposition and civil society, concerned Sri Lankans and members of NGOs. Meetings were also held with representatives of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities. In Killionochchi she met with representatives of the LTTE

Food security

The total number of WFP beneficiaries’ stands at 915,000 persons. At the request of Sri Lankan government, a new cycle of General Food Distribution (GFD) will commence on 15 May up to 30 June 2005. A WFP needs assessment mission is at work in the affected districts. The mission is currently visiting Ampara and Batticaloa districts where they are holding focus group interviews with WFP beneficiaries, interviewing and collecting information from WFP Food Aid Monitors and assessing the over all food needs in the area. This is the second needs assessment; the first one was carried out in January immediately following the tsunami disaster. WFP/UNICEF had a follow-up survey on the nutritional status of children under 5 years in Jaffna from 9-12 May 2005. The Medical Research Institute will collect data on nutrition surveillance in Mullaitivu district; facilitated by WFP in Kilinochchi.

Water and sanitation

More focused discussions with Water Board and relevant organizations involved with Water and Sanitation has taken place. Environmental issues include unblocking and unclearing of small canals, streams which are blocked. There is flooding in low lying transitional shelter sites and it is potentially a health hazard. Furthermore waste management in transitional shelter sites (compressing, recycling), re-greening of coastal areas, and re-greening of decommissioned tent sites remain pressing issues.

Agencies involved in water and sanitation activities have put forward a proposal to give support to Water Board. Environmental issues and dumping of waste is currently being discussed. It has been noticed that there is still a need for the involvement of relevant government departments such as the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and Coastal Conservation Department in water and sanitation activities.

Non-food items and shelter

Land availability and land assignment for permanent housing in the Galle district still remains unclear. After more assessments on the land, many NGOs and organizations are finding the land unsuitable for housing construction. In one case, a former-dumping site had been identified by the government as land for future permanent housing. In the Galle district the process of decommissioning tents has not been addressed properly. UN HABITAT has distributed a permanent housing form to all NGOs engaging in housing constructions in Galle district and have also been assigned a LAND POOL form.Discussions to cross-check transitional shelter recipients with beneficiary data at Divisional Secretary registration is to be sorted in order to conduct decommissioning of tents particularly along the coastal belt where most tents remain empty.
Most agencies have ceased emergency NFRI distributions for the Matara district.


Finding land for the construction of schools in the Matara district has not yet been resolved. The Government of Sri Lanka has not given any real go ahead for the reconstruction of schools on beach road and not yet found land for the schools which have to be relocated elsewhere. Land issues have to be quickly resolved as many NGOs, Swiss Development Corporation for instance are under pressure to begin building with funds earmarked for schools in Matara.


FAO has now repaired through its partnership with the state-owned boatyard Cey-Nor Foundation 2,369 boats. It has supplied 75 percent of the funds and raw materials made available to Cey-Nor worth a total of $US520,000 plus an additional $US160,000 in labour costs. FAO is also paying for Cey-Nor’s repair of inboard and outboard marine engines. 57 inboard engines and 648 outboard engines have been repaired using FAO funds. FAO is awaiting VAT exemption certificates on a further marine engine spare parts order of $US600,000 which would save $US120,000. VAT exemption has now been granted for 125 new marine engines awaiting distribution in Jaffna and a further 525 engines have been ordered and are due to arrive later this month.

FAO is hiring a number of national technical staff who will be located in the districts charged with re-enforcing government fisheries departments there and establishing an accurate database on what boats and nets have been delivered by the different humanitarian actors and to whom. FAO experts have carried out a review for the government on the rehabilitation requirements of 25 anchorages – protected areas where fishermen leave their boats.

The distribution of rice seed and appropriate fertilizer to 1668 farmers in Galle, Matara and Hambantota for the current “Yala” planting season has now been completed. Distribution is underway of 9 250 hoes to 9 250 families, 1500 in Galle, 1500 in Matara , 600 in Hambantota, 1500 in Ampara , 1600 in Batticaloa , 700 in Trincomalee, 650 in Mullaitivu and 450 in Jaffna. FAO is distributing to the district authorities for the Yala 2005 planting season 270 grammes of quality vegetable seeds that should produce 400 kilos of vegetables for 2,000 returnees displaced by the former conflict in the North and East. The seed was generated by FAO on its own seed farms funded by the Government of Japan. Some of those returnees are now also tsunami victims and the seeds will also be distributed to people living in new camps where cultivation could be carried out at a community level.

A total of $US93,158 worth of fishing nets and accompanying accessories that arrived seven weeks ago are currently in FAO’s warehouse in Colombo awaiting government confirmation of beneficiaries. $US21,000 worth of fishing nets are in Jaffna awaiting the arrival of the accompanying fishing gear. An additional US$1.84 million of fishing nets and equipment has been ordered from the international markets to be delivered between now and August.

Out of a total of 4,582 boats repaired, 387 repaired were multi-day boats, 365 3 ½ ton boats, 1,870 were FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic) boats, 1,912 were traditional Craft, 48 were beach seine craft. Nine hundred and forty-eight out board motors and 105 inboard engines have been repaired. The most number of boats were damaged or destroyed in Trincomalee. Out of a fishing fleet of 31,663 boats 4,041 were damaged while 12,396 were destroyed. However boats initially classed as destroyed were infact repairable.

It is assumed the generous support of various parties will lead to an over-supply of traditional craft and FRP boats in some areas. The aggregate plan of all agencies involved indicates that the number of traditional craft will increase by about one thousand compared with the pre-tsunami situation. In order to reduce imbalances in the rehabilitation efforts between the districts and prevent an increased fishing effort in the coastal area, all agencies have been requested to keep the Assistant Directors of Fisheries in the districts and/or the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) in Colombo informed about their plans. DFAR, with assistance from FAO, will attempt to consolidate the information received and disseminate it periodically to all agencies concerned so that they can adjust their plans according to the needs.


A database of orphaned children and children with one-parent in the Galle district has been completed and is in the possession of the Department of Probation and Child Care. Strict requirements on access to this database has been enforced. Sponsorship programmes from organizations and affluent families / interested parties for these children has commenced.

Security in camps in the Matara district is an issue. Since the navy has withdrawn from camps, there is a need for a government body to provide security in the camps. The police force has been requested to patrol camps in a mobile, roving operation. However the police have constraints regarding resources to be able to provide round-the-clock protection. A logbook will be kept in camps to record any incidents, and will then be reported and looked at by competent authorities to take action.

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