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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, June 26, 2005

Tsunami... six months on

Daily News: 25/06/2005"

IT was six months ago that Sri Lanka faced its biggest ever natural disaster. The massive tsunami waves that battered Lanka's coastline claimed more than 31,000 lives and destroyed property on an unprecedented scale.

Thousands of families were marooned. Sri Lanka was not alone - Indonesia, India, Thailand, the Maldives were also pummelled by the massive waves.

The tsunami was a harrowing story that even the most experienced journalists could not convey in its true scale. Children lost their parents; parents, their children. Whole families were swept away, never to return. Cities that once bustled with life were reduced to rubble.

Such an unprecedented disaster called for an unprecedented response.

The political leadership, the ordinary masses, the international community, the business community and indeed the media fraternity joined hands to provide relief to the victims. Six months on, the focus is very much on rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The Government is undertaking a massive rebuilding effort, for which the international community pledged US$ 3 billion at the Sri Lanka Development Forum in Kandy.

They also announced a debt moratorium. The tsunami has also brought into focus the need for the Government and the LTTE to work together to alleviate the suffering of people in the North-East, as residents of both Government-controlled and LTTE-controlled suffered heavily.

Amidst the gloom, there were some stories that made the headlines and reaffirmed our faith in humanity.

There were tales of survival against all odds. One particular story that struck a chord here and abroad concerned Abilash or Baby 81, who was reunited with his parents after a tense courtroom drama.

There were acts of kindness and generosity by strangers who did mot inquire to the ethnic or religious background of those they helped.

The many world leaders who visited Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the tsunami saw the resilience of the Lankan people and extended their cooperation in various ways. Sri Lanka will need their assistance as it emerges from this tragedy.

All agree on the need to prevent a diaster of this scale from ever happening again. Sri Lanka is actively involved in efforts to set up a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean region.

Seismologists say there is a heightened risk that a major earthquake may again strike the western coast of Sumatra as a result of the monster quake that generated the December 26 tsunami.

In short, we must be prepared. It will be years before we fully recover from the mental trauma and the physical damage inflicted by the tsunami.

In the meantime, the tragedy and its victims should not be forgotten.

They would not have died in vain if the rehabilitation efforts currently underway ultimately lead to peace and prosperity for all.

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