Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: NGO Secouristes Sans Frontières - One year after the Tsunami

Situation Report
Originally published
The urgency team of SECOURISTES SANS FRONTIERES took off on Monday 27th 2004 to Sri Lanka, at the invitation of the Delegated to the Humanitarian Action. The team took the flight with the detachment of the Sécurité Civile and after some hours spent in Colombo, it was directed to the Eastern part of the island. It was operational during the night of 28th to 29th December 2004.
The team that comprises three emergency doctors, one anaesthetist nurse and one operating room nurse, as well as fifteen rescuers specialized in search and rescue, settled a medical treatment area in the district of Ampara, within the refugee camp in KALMUNAYE. This small town of 1 500 inhabitants is located on a little strip of land between the ocean and a lagoon.

During the 6 days spent on the spot, the team took charge of 1 548 victims and the rescuers have freed with semi-heavy means, (jacks and chain saws), 7 lifeless bodies.

The team also furnished advice about organisation of food distribution, unloading trucks in order to distribute relief while respecting human dignity.

After this urgency phase it appeared necessary to pursue our action in SRI LANKA.

Three important phases have been set up

-Stimulation of economic activity

-Rebuilding of the housing, as soon as permitted

-Creation of emergency service, health transport.

First, we established contacts with the hospital of KALMUNAI. We were to provide our support with bio-medical material but we finally stopped this project since its need was not clearly defined.

Then we contacted French compatriots ( NGO GREEN HOPE settled in Sri Lanka) to determine the population's needs of equipment for the stricken towns, to enable restart of local fishing activity.

We listed several boat types that should be financed. Owing to our analysis, and since coasts were devastated, we concluded that an open sea boat, like a 35 foot trawler was necessary to go fishing at open sea.

During our meeting of 15th May 2005, the board of directors and general meeting of SECOURISTES SANS FRONTIERES accepted the co financing of an open sea fishing boat.

Indeed the trawler has been bought on the spot. Construction and equipment (fishing tackles and fittings for radio navigation) were finalized with a budget of 22 500 €.

Secondly it appeared necessary to finance rebuilding of three houses to help families to get out of precariousness. We obtained the authorization to rebuild these fisherman houses at original place, what was essential for these families; this work began on 20th December 2005 and its closure is foreseen on 17th February 2006 in HIKKADUWA aréa.

In the third place, it occurred to us important to study assistance facilities that might have been used to transport victims to hospitals that are located out of reach of the wave.

There is no governmental or private service, in the district of HIKKADUWA, able to provide the transport of ill people or victims of incident, accident or uneasiness. The only vehicles available for sanitary transport are located in large towns (COLOMBO - GALLE). These provisions are then exorbitant and there is no social system to take care of them, indeed there is no reimbursement.

In case of health difficulties - illness, accident, uneasiness, childbirth...- people have to resort to the cheapest mean of transport: the Sri Lankan "Tchuk Tchuk" (a kind of car with three wheels). This mode of transport is employed since of the lack of any other adapted or affordable mean. Unfortunately, these transport conditions are dangerous for victim or patient; they are completely inadapted and often worsen health of the victim.

Creating a sanitary transport service and Mobil Dispensary turns out to be more than necessary in Hikkaduwa's area. This small town is located on the South West coast of SRI LANKA, 120 km from the capital, COLOMBO. The most effective part of health cares infrastructures are precisely there.

This structure has to be managed as a company in order to ensure its durability. We shall ensure training and equipment of this rescue team, abiding by the European legislation, with full respect of the Sri Lankan way of life, and with the help of local medical referents (Sri Lankan doctors, nurses). Actually, we foresee to train a training staff and buy one sanitary vehicle with all the necessary equipment included. Contacts are in hand with a car dealer and a manufacturer in COLOMBO.

This programme of action will start on 20th February 2006.

Dominique MORIN Chief of International Missions by N.G.O. S.S.F