This remains one of the worlds most neglected emergencies. The fighting between Sri Lanka's government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), has intensified since November 1999, creating havoc for civilians in the northern and eastern provinces. Transporting relief supplies and staff to the northern and eastern part of the country has been an ongoing challenge throughout this 16 year civil war.
Orissa - October 1999
At the end of October a devastating 'super-cyclone' hit the eastern coast of India. Despite some warnings to the local population, no one was prepared for the magnitude of the cyclone. 300 km per hour winds and rising tide waters pushed three kilometres inland causing total destruction of homes, people, livestock, land and transportation. The main area to be hit was Orissa and an estimated 10 million people in total have been affected.
On the 9th November the DEC (Disasters Energency Committee) launched an appeal on behalf of the victims of the cyclone. To date this has raised over £5 million with CAFOD receiving approximately £260,000. CAFOD opted into this appeal and is channelling funds raised through Caritas India. These funds are being used for the reconstruction of houses, rehabilitation of fisherman's livelihoods and building of community shelters. The Indian Government has been leading the emergency response with NGOs supplementing and supporting their efforts.
On 17th August one of the worst earthquakes recorded in the past century hit north-west Turkey, a heavily populated area including part of greater Istanbul. By end of August almost 14,000 bodies had been recovered. (Many more certainly still lie under the rubble.) Massive damage has been sustained by housing and infrastructure. CAFOD has now channelled £100,000 to Caritas Turkey for this emergency from unsolicited money received from the public.
There are still approximately 120,000 displaced Timorese in West Timor - malnutrition rates amongst them are as high as 25%. Responsibility for their safe return lies with IOM (International Organization for Migration) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). Over 80,000 have already been returned from West Timor or other parts of Indonesia and Australia.
Within East Timor, tension appears to be growing as some of the thousands of unemployed East Timorese begin to lose patience with the UN administration and NGOs. Unemployment is the legacy of the systematic destruction of homes, businesses and government infrastructure that took place in September by Indonesian armed forces backed militias. CNRT President, Xanana Gusmao (who visited CAFOD in September) has said that East Timorese are feeling frustrated at the lack of progress in re-building their country. It is a major concern that this frustration appears to be growing.
DPRK (North Korea)
The situation still remains critical despite the success of NGO and UN food aid in averting mass starvation over the past couple of years. UNICEF report that three of every 10 children under two suffer severe malnutrition, six of every 10 children under seven suffer from stunted growth. The health care system is in crisis with re-emerging threats of polio, 40,000 new cases of tuberculosis per year and tetanus. Severe and moderate malnutrition affect 16 per cent of children aged seven and under. The crude death rate as reported by the Government increased to 9.3 per 1,000 in 1998, up from 6.8 per 1,000 in the early 1990s.
Caritas Hong Kong continues to lead the Caritas response and CAFOD is submitting an application to DFID (Department for International Development) for £156,000 for agricultural inputs.
In late September a grant was made to the Diocese of Auki in Malaita province for £23,000 to assist over 24,000 Malaitans who had fled back to Malaita from Guadalcanal following militant activity by the 'Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army' who were, among other things, demanding the expulsion of Malaitans from Guadalcanal land. In conjunction with the Red Cross, the Diocese of Auki are providing tools for house construction and clearance of gardens to begin food production.
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