Date: 02 Jun 2005
The number of tsunami-affected IDPs has remained relatively constant over the last few weeks, according to UNICEF. As of 25 May, the number living in camps and hosted with friends and relatives stood at 499,783. The largest numbers of IDPs are recorded in Galle with 120,828 and Ampara with 100,012.
Main challenges and response
On 17 May, a displaced 15 year-old boy from a Thirrukovial IDP camp in Ampara died from burns he sustained when a mosquito net in which he had wrapped himself accidentally caught fire. Such mosquito nets are highly flammable. The tragic incident highlighted the prevalence of potential fire hazards in camps and transitional shelters. In the aftermath of the child's death, UNICEF, in coordination with other agencies and government officials, is exploring ways to inform and educate regarding potential fire hazards and safety measures that can be taken in the camps. UNICEF's Early Childhood Programme in Colombo is helping
formulate key messages regarding accident prevention and increase awareness and promote safety in camps. In addition, potentially flammable items such as mosquito nets and lanterns will be delivered with fire hazard warnings attached.
Coordination and common services
Planning and preparations are ongoing for a Lessons Learned Tsunami Workshop to be held on 8 and 9 June with participants from national and local government, NGOs, bilateral donors and International Organisations. The Sri Lankan exercise is a precursor to a regional exercise taking place in Medan, Indonesia on 13 to 14 June.
In Ampara district, psycho-social programmes have been on-going in IOM-supported camps. From 19 to 22 May, four shows were put on by a Sri Lankan traveling puppet workshop and theatre group and from18 to 23 May, six acrobatic workshops and exhibitions were held. Some 1,400 children, adults from the tsunami-affected population and neighboring communities attended the events.
IOM supported and organized a three-day Psychosocial Training-of-Trainers course in Colombo, with a local NGO, Sahanaya, for ten Sewalanka workers and seven workers from the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Affairs. It also funded and organized a two-day psycho-social training course for 35 field workers and community leaders in Ampara. In addition, IOM is developing HIV/AIDS message playing cards that will be available for distribution among tsunami-affected populations and aim to increase community awareness of HIV/AIDS.
Five-thousand mosquito nets were handed over to the Deputy Director of Health Services in Ampara by UNICEF to support the Anti-Malaria Campaign. Another 5,400 nets were provided to the Health Sevice in Jaffna district. An increase in mosquito-borne diseases is likely due to the seasonal North East monsoon rains.
IOM Sri Lanka is implementing an Eye Care Health Pilot Project in collaboration with the Ophthalmologic College of Sri Lanka. The Project seeks to improve the provision of eye health care services including cataract surgery to both tsunami-affected populations and host communities in tsunami-affected areas. Additionally, 90 Ophthalmologic nurses selected from six tsunami-affected districts (Hambantota, Galle, Matara, Ampara, Trincomalee and Batticaloa) attended a one-day training workshop on 29 May at the Colombo Eye Hospital to develop their skills on how to handle, maintain and sterilize surgical equipment and assist cataract surgery. The Eye Health Care Project expects to directly benefit 77,000 beneficiaries of which 7,700 will be children.
Non-food items and shelter
Planning for permanent houses in all 17 relocation sites in the Batticaloa District is underway. According to the Kachcheri, all sites have now been “claimed” by one or another reconstruction agency. However, various steps need to be undertaken prior to the commencement of construction and these could be time-consuming.
As of 16 May 2005, the Damage Assessment Team (DAT) which is composed of division and local level representatives, as well as a technical expert and donor representative) had inspected 11,292 of 13,987 fully or partially damaged houses outside the buffer zone in Batticaloa district. A total of 6,333 assessments have been completed with compensation payments authorized. Some protests against DAT assessment decision have been held in the district in the last few weeks. According to some representatives of agencies involved in the reconstruction efforts, many tsunami-survivors whose homes were damaged or destroyed are not sufficiently informed about the criteria for awarding compensation payments or about the channels for expressing grievance.
In some areas hard-hit by the tsunami, school children have only one set of clothes apart from the school uniforms they have been provided. In response to this problem, UNICEF is distributed clothing to 149 boys and 114 girls in Mullaitivu RCTMS school, to 116 boys and 100 girls in Kallapadu school and to 100 girls and 100 boys at Kallaru School.
Work has commenced by UNICEF on the construction of 195 semi-permanent classrooms in Kalmunai and Akkaraipattu zones. In addition, 99 class rooms are being constructed in all six education zones of Ampara. In Galle education zone, the construction work of two semi-permanent school buildings funded by UNICEF is nearing completion.
The New Easter Bus Company began a bus service on June 1 to transport children residing in IDP camps at Mandanai and Sakalakalai Amman Temple to and from school. UNICEF is supporting the bus service through its Education Office in Akkaraiapttu. Approximately 200-300 children will benefit initially from this service.
As of the end of May, 770 families have received IOM livelihood assistance. Of these, 301 families were identified as single-headed households or otherwise extremely vulnerable and were assisted as part of IOM's Counter Trafficking Programme.
The Chamber of Commerce in Batticaloa district has established a help desk to assist tsunami-affected people obtain bank loans and other types of assistance. The Chamber of Commerce is also planning to provide grants of Rs 10,000- 25,000 for tsunami-affected people to start up businesses.
The Sri Lankan Department of Probation, Save the Children, UNICEF and the Mangrove have been collaborating on the provision of care and protection for over 630 children who have lost both parents and 1,416 children who have lost one parent. A model is now being discussed to provide care to these children beyond their legal entitlements. One of the major concerns that have emerged is entitlement to compensation and land rights of those children who have lost both their parents in the tsunami. Moreover, the majority of them are particularly disadvantaged in that they do not have legal representation to claim for their rights. "
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