Sri Lanka: Between civil war and cyclone – humedica’s aid for victims of storm is continuing

by Susanne Merkel/SRI,  2009/05/29

On November 25th, 2008, the northern Sri Lankan province of Jaffna was hit by cyclone Nish that caused the worst floods of the past 50 years and claimed the lives of 180 persons. People who had already been hit hard by the civil war.

humedica has been able to carry out several distributions since the beginning of the year. Photo: humedica

Meanwhile, the civil war has been declared over by both government troups and Tamil rebels, i.e. members of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) militant national organisation. In the meantime, humedica’s help for the victims of the cyclone is continuing.

In spite of some delivery difficulties that had been caused by the civil war in the past weeks, the experienced staff members of humedica Sri Lanka carried out the project with great reliability. After negotiations that lasted for months and the intervention of the German embassy at Sri Lanka’s department of defense, a German coordinator finally received the travel permission to Jaffna and will set out for a monitoring visit within a few days.

In the project area of Point Pedro and Sandilipay, people affected by the cyclone are treated both in our mobile and permanent clinics. Since January, in Sakkoddai about 60 patients have been treated every day. It has been possible to purchase the drugs necessary for the clinic’s work in Jaffna.

So far, food has been distributed to 150 affected families in Point Pedro and 450 families in Sandilippai. They received rice, tea, lentils, sugar, flour and milk powder. In addition, we have been able to distribute smaller food packages to 1400 more affected families.

Hygiene packages containing soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and towels were handed over to 2000 families on March 17th, among them 1700 in Sandilippai und 300 in Point Pedro.

Aid measures have been carried out thanks to the support of the Foreign Office. Photo: humedica

The same families received sleeping mats and mosquito nets. Building materials for the repair of damaged living huts were delivered in the middle of April via ship from Colombo, and have been distributed to 450 families in Sandilipai and 150 families in Point Pedro.

“Although the supply situation in Jaffna has eased on the whole, the area is still not reachable by land. Rising prices and a lacking economic foundation make large parts of the population dependant on aid supplies”, is reported on the website of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. This evaluation is entirely shared by us.

Apart from the care for the families affected by the cyclone in Jaffna, humedica is continuing to strive for access to the refugee camps on the peninsula. So far, the government in Colombo has not granted any permit for travel or access to the camps to any foreign aid organization or political representative.

Correspondingly, our local team has only once been able to carry out a distribution to 437 families in a camp during the past two weeks. We strongly hope that the situation will change soon.

humedica wants to express its gratitude to the Federal Foreign Office of Germany for the financing of this project and the continuous support.

The distribution of relief goods has also been reported on by the local media. Scan/Photo: humedica

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