Sri Lanka

IOM/OCHA Sri Lanka: Humanitarian Situation Report 01 - 05 Jul 2005

Situation Report
Originally published
The Chairman of Ceylinco Consolidated which owns one of the largest banks in Sri Lanka, Seylan Bank, has announced that his group of companies will provide loans to resume constructions within the 100-metre buffer zone while ensuring that the risk of confiscation will be borne by his conglomerate. Loans from Ceylinco will go for housing reconstruction within the 100 metre buffer zone and for the purchase of fishing gear.

Overview of activities

IOM has been requested to build 4,395 transitional houses, of which land has currently been allocated for 3,561. Construction of 986 units is ongoing on numerous sites in the country and IOM anticipates the completion of some 2,000 transitional houses within the next week, having already finished transitional houses for 1,833 families in the country. Within the past two weeks alone 555 units were completed in the districts. Constructions on IOM transitional accommodation sites also includes pre-schools, administration offices and health centres. On some sites, IOM provides toilets, showers and other water and sanitation services while on other occasions it is done through cooperation with other agencies in the districts.

Thirty "Crisis Corps" volunteers sent by the United States Peace Corps will arrive in Sri Lanka over the next two weeks to help tsunami-affected Sri Lankans rebuild their lives, homes and communities. The volunteers, all former Peace Corps Volunteers in different countries, are professionals with technical expertise in areas ranging from international organizational development and coordination, management and administration, to civil engineering. Crisis Corps volunteers will work in conjunction with partner organizations in established projects in sites along the coast including Trincomalee, Ampara, Hambantota, Matara, Galle and Kalutara.

IOM's livelihood programme includes the replacement of lost or damaged tools and equipment and training in new livelihood skills appropriate to the local market conditions. The programme assists people engaged in various professions including trades workers, crafts persons, mechanics, and small businesses including transporters, commercial vendors and processors of foodstuffs. To date, 3,674 beneficiaries have been surveyed, verified as eligible for assistance and included in IOM's electronic livelihood database. Large scale procurement is ongoing both centrally through IOM's procurement unit and in the districts to help revive the local economies. To date livelihood projects with 590 tsunami-affected households have commenced. The income security of these families has been improved through the distribution of various income-generating assets or due to participation in IOM-funded training. In the last two weeks of June alone livelihood recovery assistance was provided to 235 individuals including 52 paddy cultivators, 41 goat rearers and 26 retail-shop owners, to name a few. In addition, 28 sewing centres have been opened in IOM-supported camps with 17 in Ampara, five in Batticaloa, and six in Matara districts as a community income-generating resource. Experienced trainers have been hired to develop the skills of some 500 beneficiaries using the centres.

Main challenges and response

Landmines and unexploded ordinances (UXOs) are a major problem throughout the North and East of Sri Lanka, putting children and their families at risk of injury and death. To help raise awareness of the dangers posed by landmines, the first week of July and of August have been designated National Mine Action weeks across Sri Lanka by the National Steering Committee on Mine Action. July, August and September are the most dangerous months in Sri Lanka for landmine injuries. Each year at this time, people return to their fields to begin planting and harvesting their crops. It is then that the lands of the North and East, seeded with explosives, reap their deadly harvest. The aim of Mine Action weeks is to keep people focused on the dangers posed by landmines when they go back to the fields to reduce the risks they face each day. During these two weeks, activities will be held in Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar, Puttalam, Anuradhapura, Kilinochchi, Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee. Nationally, radio spots will be aired to alert all Sri Lankans to the dangers of landmines and how to protect themselves against injury or death. Since 2002, mine accidents have decreased from 12 per month to only four per month by the end of 2004, in large part due to mine action awareness campaigns. UNICEF's partners on mine action include UNDP, the National Institute for Education, the Provincial Departments of Education, Community Trust Fund, Mine Advisory Group, Sarvodaya, Handicap International, Caritas Mannar, Jaipur foot centre Jaffna, The Tamil Refugee Rehabilitation Organization, Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, CHA and White Pigeon.

Following a request from the Parliament Select Committee on Natural Disasters earlier this year, IOM agreed to provide expert and logistical support to its proceedings. To help avoid the catastrophic impacts of future natural disasters in Sri Lanka, IOM is attempting to support and enhance the capacity of Sri Lankan ministries and local government agencies regarding disaster preparedness and public awareness. Support activities include the deployment of two international experts to Sri Lanka to assess conditions, compile report, and provide recommendations to the Parliament Select Committee on future disaster preparedness and response. IOM has also funded and organized two comparative study tours to Korea-Japan and Turkey-Germany for members of the Select Committee. The two groups attended meetings and were briefed on natural disaster risk management structures and operations in the countries of study. In addition, two visits to Indonesia for the Chair of the Parliament Select Committee have been facilitated.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit