Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: The IOM completes 2000th transitional house for tsunami survivors

Colombo, July 12, 2005 -- The IOM has completed 2000 transitional houses for survivors of the tsunami, at a time when quality of construction is of growing concern in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan government says more than 40-thousand transitional houses have been completed island-wide, but it estimates that 20 percent do not meet minimum standards. All of the IOM's 2000 transitional homes provide at least 200 square feet of space per family, along with adequate ventilation, electricity, water, and sanitation. The IOM is examining how it can provide support to ensure that shelters of this standard are available in all tsunami-affected districts.

"Our transitional accommodation is designed to last up to two years, or longer if necessary, while permanent housing is finalized for the 86-thousand Sri Lankan families made homeless in the disaster," said Christopher Gascon, Chief of Emergency Operations for the IOM in Sri Lanka.

Twelve-year-old K. M. Farmana, her mother, and brother, recently moved into transitional housing built by the IOM in Kattankudy, south of Batticaloa.

"I really feel at home here and I'm especially happy now that I have a quiet place to do my homework," said Farmana.

Not far away, 42-year old Jazeema has also moved into IOM-built transitional housing, along with her husband and six children.

"I am glad that the IOM built a preschool just around the corner, because my four-year-old-daughter can go there to play while I do the family's cooking under our new covered verandah," said Jazeema.

When the tsunami struck it leveled Jazeema's home. However the family lived outside the government's new coastal buffer zone, so the IOM was able to build a transitional house on the family's own land. The IOM has also constructed transitional accommodation on land allocated by the government for people who had formerly resided within the 100-200 metre buffer zone.

Thadchanamoorthy Parameswaran recently moved into transitional housing in Trincomalee and says his family is benefiting from the IOM's wider strategy to help people rebuild their homes and lives.

"I feel happy and comfortable in my new house. The IOM also helped me rebuild my business and get my children into school, so now I can go to work with no fears," said the 38-year-old mason.

In addition to providing housing, the IOM has completed 18 temporary buildings to be used as schools. Showers, toilets, health centres, children's playgrounds, and communal areas have also been erected at transitional housing sites.

IOM is currently building almost 1,000 additional transitional homes. The government has asked the IOM to build 4395 transitional houses in total. So far land has been allocated for 3561.

Fore further information please contact:

Gina Wilkinson
IOM Sri Lanka