Looking ahead to future with growing hope - and supported by humedica

by Sven Ramones,  2011/04/04

Sri Lanka has been scarred by decades of civil war and the devastating tsunami. But now, the island state in the Indian Ocean is looking ahead to a hopefully better future. The country is facing a new beginning and humedica is actively contributing by means of various projects.

Over the next few days, we would like to tell you more about humedica's various fields of activity in Sri Lanka, in our series "Sri Lanka: relief projects for a new beginning".

Almost three decades of civil war

For more than 25 years, a violent war was fought between Sri Lankan government troops and rebels of the "Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam" (LTTE) that ended only in 2009.

The atrocious civil war left behind obvious traces in large parts of Sri Lanka. Photo: humedica/Bernd Gisch

The origin of the war can be traced back over several centuries; it developed from an ongoing, simmering conflict between the population groups of the Singhalese and the ethnic minority of the Tamil.

After Sri Lanka had declared its independence of Great Britain in 1948, political tension between the two groups continued to increase.

For decades, legislative decrees introduced by the governing group of the Singhalese led to ever stronger disadvantages for the Tamil minority.

Driven by the objective to create their own, independent state on the island of Sri Lanka, Tamil freedom fighters founded the rebel movement "Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam" in 1976. The ancient conflict between the Singhalese and the Tamil arose once more.

In 1983, the "Liberation Tigers" reacted on violent anti-Tamil demonstrations by carrying out a bloody assault on Sri Lankan soldiers during which several members of the government troops were killed.

humedica could help those affected by the civil war by means of distributing relief goods. Photo: humedica

The hostility between the Singhalese and the Tamil had developed into a civil war that was to be led over decades, with both parties committing terrible atrocities. As always, those who suffered most were the civilians.

The following decades were marked by war, and the population of Sri Lanka was constantly faced with threats and violence. For many of them, the flight from the terrors of war ended at detention camps.

As refugees were often suspected to be on the side of the "Liberation Tigers", these refugee camps were subject to extremely strict supervision by the government. Only rarely were international relief organisations given permission to access the camps to help those detained.

According to estimates, the number of war casualties in Sri Lanka amounted to at least 70,000, among them countless civilians. For up to 250,000 people, the only way to escape armed conflicts in their regions was to flee their homes.

The tsunami in 2004

Amidst the chaos of war, the already battered country was hit by a devastating natural disaster. In December 2004, a seaquake off the shore of Sumatra caused a flood wave that devastated large parts of the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean.

The force of the water masses brought on by the tsunami often left behind nothing than ruins and rubble. Photo: humedica

Houses were destroyed, private property was swept away and countless people were killed. According to official estimates, ten thousands of people were killed during the massive tsunami. The living conditions of many of the country's inhabitants became even worse.

The country and its inhabitants have been deeply shaken over the past decades. But now, the end of the indescribable misery the people of Sri Lanka had to live through marks the starting point of a new beginning.

The numerous relief projects humedica is running in Sri Lanka are to give the people the amount of support and provisions they need in these times of change.

In the next part of our series, you can read more about the commitment of humedica in the south and north of the island state.

After the tsunami in Sri Lanka, doctor teams of humedica, in the picture Dr Andreas Knie (former Lord Mayor of the town of Kaufbeuren, and doctor), offered medical treatment to those in misery. Photo: humedica

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