Amount of Decision: EUR 5,000,000
Decision reference number: ECHO/-SA/BUD/2006/01000
1 - Rationale, needs and target population.
1.1. - Rationale :
The conflict between Tamil separatists (LTTE(1)) and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) in the north and east of the country has intensified dramatically in recent months with open conflict on several fronts and a sharp increase in the number of victims. The total number of fatalities from January to September 2006 was 2,764(2); 729 civilian, 446 security forces and 1,589 LTTE cadres. Compared to the figures for conflict-related fatalities in previous years: 330 in 2005; 109 in 2004; 59 in 2003 and 15 in 2002, Sri Lanka has clearly moved back to the levels of civil conflict in 2000, when the casualty figure stood at 3,791.
In terms of Internally Displaced People (IDPs), there are now 234,564 newly displaced people in Sri Lanka since April 2006(3). This is in addition to the existing caseload of 350,000 IDPs from the earlier phases of the conflict and the 200,000 to 400,000 tsunami IDPs. Some of these people are being displaced for a second or even third time. This brings the total IDP population in Sri Lanka to over 800,000 out of a total population of 19.5 million. Current assessments and estimates from the UN and others indicate that the IDP figures may increase further, should the hostilities continue. The movement of large groups of displaced persons to adjacent areas has also added pressure on host communities already affected by the crisis.
In addition to those displaced in Sri Lanka, a total of 13,620(4) new refugees have so far reached Tamil Nadu in India since January 2006. This brings the total population in the refugee camps there to almost 80,000. While the Indian government has not requested assistance, a needs assessment mission by DG ECHO(5) to the camps in August 2006 recommended that depending on access for NGOs to the camps, there were needs especially for water and sanitation interventions and shelter provisions.
Although neither of the parties has officially renounced the ceasefire agreement (CFA) of February 2002, the reality on the ground is very different with open warfare ongoing in three districts - Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Jaffna. Shelling is a routine occurrence in parts of the country, the use of roadside bombs and claymore mines has increased, and anti-vehicle and pressure mines have re-emerged. Violations of international human rights and humanitarian law are commonplace on both sides, impunity is a major problem. The recent execution of 17 local staff from the French NGO "Action Contre La Faim" (ACF) has sent shock waves throughout the humanitarian community and brought into focus the harsh reality facing aid workers in the north and east of the country.
Access to several areas has been denied, with proposed humanitarian corridors being rejected by both parties. Road traffic between the Jaffna peninsula and the rest of the country has been cut off since 11 August and it is impossible to move emergency supplies into the district by land. Aid agencies have warned that there will be a serious humanitarian crisis if shortages continue.
On 27 July 2006, ICRC announced a budget extension appeal for Sri Lanka in response to new emerging needs. On 15 September a further appeal was launched to cover additional emergency needs for up to 200,000 additional people, arising from the increased intensity of the armed conflict. With the second budget extension the revised ICRC appeal amounts to over 20 MEUR. Meanwhile, on 30 August, the UN launched a Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) for Sri Lanka requesting USD 37.5 M for urgent relief from September to December 2006. The CHAP is a stand-alone humanitarian strategy, which identifies priorities to be taken to provide shelter, food, water and sanitation, health care, education and livelihood support for affected populations including those displaced. ICRC and UN, notably WFP and UNHCR, are proving to be key players in a context of reduced humanitarian space. This emergency humanitarian aid decision is primarily a response to the ICRC and UN appeals. DG ECHO has been funding operations for conflict affected IDPs in Sri Lanka since 1994. In July 2006, a humanitarian aid decision for 7 MEUR(6) covering the needs of conflict IDPs to August 2007 was adopted. Although this decision was originally intended to help returning IDPs, an element of flexibility was incorporated, allowing partners funded under this decision to give priority to newly uprooted people instead of the planned returnees where necessary.
DG ECHO has also responded to the devastating effects of the tsunami of 26 December 2004 which badly hit the north and east adding further to the disadvantages in that part of the country. A humanitarian aid decision(7) totaling 20 MEUR (8 MEUR of which is allocated to Sri Lanka), covers the needs of tsunami IDPs to June 2007. In Tamil Nadu, DG ECHO has funded humanitarian aid operations in the refugee camps from 2002 -2005.
The situation has now deteriorated so far that a new emergency decision is necessary in order to respond to the additional emergency needs arising from the increased intensity of the conflict in Sri Lanka and the increased numbers of refugees in Tamil Nadu.
(1) Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(2) Source: South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP) Sri Lanka country database, which bases its figures on media reports www,satp,org
(3) Source: UNHCR Sri Lanka IDP/Refugee Situation Update 6 September 2006
(4) Source: UNHCR 12 September 2006
(5) European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian aid - DG ECHO.
(6) ECHO/LKA/BUD/2006/01000 7 ECHO/-AS/BUD/2005/07000