A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
On 21 April 2019, explosions at eight sites killed at least 253 people2 and wounded more than 500 people. The blasts occurred at three churches, including: St. Anthony’s Church in Kochcikade – Colombo, St. Sebastian’s in Katuwapitiya - Negombo, Gampaha, and Protestant Zion Church in Batticaloa in Eastern province. The blasts targeted worshippers as they attended Easter Sunday services during the Christian holy week. Blasts also occurred at three hotels in Colombo, including Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand, and Kingsbury Hotel, all in the capital. Two more blasts occurred on the same day, as authorities were investigating. At least 40 foreign nationals3 and at least 45 children4 are reported to be among the dead. Further, several other explosives were found and safely defused in Andiambalama and Kochchikade. Still the exact number of families affected is not clear, and due to the sensitivity of the situation the information flow has been disrupted.
Therefore, it is still difficult to assess specific needs of the affected families. However, despite the support extended from the host government, and several external actors there remain a clear need in psychosocial support among the survivors and the affected families.
The Easter Sunday bombings are considered a ‘Collective Trauma Event’. The violence has directly affected countless bystanders and support workers in Colombo and Batticaloa. It has indirectly affected the entire population of Sri Lanka. It will have a lasting economic impact on many Sri Lankans via disruption day-to-day economic activities and to the burgeoning tourism industry.
The events on Easter Sunday may result in an increase in violence. SLRCS will benefit from institutional preparedness to strengthen its ability to respond to situations of violence.