Sri Lanka

Humanitarian Situation Report - Sri Lanka: 10 - 16 Jun 2005

Overall Situation

The British Minister for Development Cooperation, Gareth Thomas, paid a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, 15 and 16 June, in which he met in Colombo with Ministry officials including the Minister if Finance, and with representatives of the World Bank and WFP. His trip included a visits to Ampara and Galle districts where he visited transitional shelter sites. In Ampara, he met with the Government Agent, representatives of UNHCR, OCHA and UN HABITAT and in Galle, as well as meeting with UN agency and NGO representatives, he met with the Divisional Secretary in Hikkaduwa and Representatives of the Transitional Accommodation Project (TAP) and of the Urban Development Authority (UDA). The British Minister for Development Cooperation was scheduled to hold a press conference at the conclusion of his trip.

The UNICEF Executive Director, Ms. Ann Veneman, arrived in Colombo on 16 June for a three-day visit. She will meet with the Sri Lankan President, UN officials, Ambassadors and Development Partners, and is also scheduled to visit Kilinochchi and Batticaloa. Ms. Veneman will be accompanied by the UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Toshiyuki Niwa, who will also visit Galle. Ms. Veneman will hold a press briefing prior to her departure.

The Government of Japan has donated 100 ten-kilowatt ampere diesel generators to be used by displaced people living in camps in eight districts under its Non-Project Grant Aid scheme. In order to ensure the effective use of the generators, grant funds will also be provided for wiring of the camps and transport of the generators to the districts concerned. The total cost associated with the provision of the 100 generators is approximately Rs.36 million (US$ 367,000). Displaced persons in the districts of Jaffna, Mullativu, Kilinochchi, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Hambantota and Matara are to benefit from the generator donations.

Coordination and common services

Recommendations on the design of sanitation, most appropriate technology and environmental strategies were developed by the Sanitation Working group in Colombo which includes the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO, OXFAM, World Vision, IFRC and CCF. The guidelines have been sent to field offices of all partners.


Some 280 different textbooks across all subjects, covering children in grades 1-13, have been reprinted in English, Tamil and Sinhalese by UNICEF to replace books that were washed away during the 26 December tsunami. Sixteen publishing houses in Colombo are filling orders compiled by the Department of Publications, Ministry of Education for a total of over 480,000 textbooks. UNICEF is covering the cost of printing and distributing the textbooks to zonal education offices, the cost of which is nearly US $900,000. Some 60 titles have already been distribute, and the rest will be in time for the start of the new school term in July.

One-hundred and ninety-five semi-permanent modular-type classrooms are being fabricated by UNICEF in 15 schools in Akkaraipattu and 18 schools in Kalmunai to benefit close to 5,000 students in Ampara district. These children are currently accommodated in temporary classrooms.


Work is currently on-going in Trincomalee and Ampara district by UNICEF to ensure that all temporary school structures, including a total of 84 class rooms, are upgraded to semi permanent buildings with half cement walls, color wash and cement partitions. Seven other structures, with 28 class rooms, are already completed in Trincomalee. In Galle, UNICEF agreed to provide five more schools, with 24 class rooms, in addition to the ten school buildings, with 38 class rooms, it has already provided. About 1,800 students will benefit from these new class rooms.

Forut conducted its first psychosocial workshop in Batticaloa district for 180 pre-school teachers in tsunami-affected areas between 6 and 9 June. The main objective of the workshop was to provide practical tools to pre-school teachers for dealing with tsunami-affected children. The workshop is funded in collaboration with People in Need and is implemented by TRO.

Eleven WHO-sponsored staff, currently recruited through the Deputy Provincial Director of Health Services, will be deployed into 11 Divisional Secretariats to provided psychosocial coordination support. The Batticaloa Mental Health Unit will guide their work.

Responding to the outbreak of suspected hepatitis A cases in two IDP camps in Vaharai, Batticaloa district, Oxfam GB has distributed 900 water filters. This is in support of ongoing efforts of chlorinating water sources and conducting hygiene promotion through various health actors and Public Health Inspectors.

The Family Health Bureau (FHB) has analyzed the coverage of the vitamin "A" mega dose campaign launched on 30 April in 10 Tsunami affected districts. The main reason for the additional vitamin "A" mega dose for Tsunami affected districts was the likely risk faced by the people of districts due to displacement, loss of resources for food and shelter and other negative effects created on environmental health and nutrition. Out of 389,922 registered numbers of children at MCH level between 6-months to 5-years of age, 384,885 children have received vitamin "A" mega dose supplementation reaching an average of 98.7 per cent coverage in all 10 districts.

Water and sanitation

In Batticaloa district, organisations active in the Water/Sanitation sectors are reporting that some of their scheduled well-cleaning activities have been interrupted by recent hartals in the area..

UNICEF reports that various districts have raised concerns that water and sanitation (WES) activities lag behind the planning and construction of transitional shelters, and that actual monitoring of how well WES systems are working within this particular areas needs to be much more systematic and rigorous. In Trincomalee, where UNICEF and UNHCR have developed a joint reporting format and meet on a monthly basis to report and plan, organizers have stressed the priority of setting up water and sanitation systems before building shelters.

Non-food items and shelter

A total of 55 per cent of required temporary shelters in Batticaloa district had been completed by 8 June. Most beneficiaries of these shelters have expressed the wish for additions to their shelters, such as a separate kitchen or veranda. In follow-up, Oxfam Australia is discussing with beneficiaries their individual needs and has indicated sufficient funding is available to respond to such individual requests.


FAO has repaired over 3,400 boats in Sri Lanka, allowing nearly 12,000 fishers to resume their livelihoods after last December's tsunami destruction. According to government and FAO estimates, 54 percent of the total fishing fleet was either made un-seaworthy or was totally destroyed by the tsunami. FAO works through the government-owned boat building and fishery supply company Cey-Nor Foundation Ltd, and supplies 75 per cent of its funds and raw materials. FAO supports Cey-Nor through the provision of tools, boat repair materials and payment of labour charges with the objective of ensuring that fishers in all affected districts can resume their livelihoods as quickly as possible. FAO is also funding the repair of inboard engines and outboard motors. To date, 212 inboard engines and 658 outboard motors have already been repaired by Cey-Nor using FAO funds. Close to 5,000 fishers were killed by the tsunami waves in Sri Lanka whilst tens of thousands of others saw their houses destroyed and their means of earning a living -- their boats, nets and other equipment -- washed away.

CARE is currently involved in a number of cash-for-work activities in tsunami affected areas of the country. In Ampara, CARE is supporting a livelihoods project in which tsunami-survivors are employed in clearing garbage, repairing schools and rehabilitating roads. Some 103 kilometres of road have already been rehabilitated out of a total of 250; the first eight out of 50 schools have been repaired; and workers are routinely collecting the garbage from 64 camps. In Jaffna, approximately 450 people each day participate in a CARE cash-for-work programme involving the clearing of channels and beaches and of shoreline so boats can land safely. In Trincomalee, Care has given cash grants of Rs. 532,000 as livelihood support to 131 families in Eachchalampattu and Muthoor divisions. One-hundred-and-seventy-three families in all will receive such support. CARE Cash-for-Work activities is also continuing in 12 villages of nine GS divisions of four DS divisions in which 582 families participated for 58 days.


Investigations by the Batticaloa Protection Task Force, which consists of government, UN agency and NGO representatives have concluded that foster rights over orphaned children do not give foster parents the automatic right to the land title of the children they are looking after. UNICEF and probation officers are currently carrying out an assessment on the number of orphaned children and their land rights.

UNICEF has provided transportation for the Children and Women's Police Desk Officers to regularly visit all the IDP camps in Ampara District and has supplied tents for the establishment of 24 hour police posts in 36 IDP camps. UNICEF is in the process of procuring supplies such as furniture and first aid boxes for the police posts in the IDP camps.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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