Sri Lanka: Relief efforts continue
10-01-2005 News Release No. 05/004
Having worked in northern and eastern Sri Lanka for 15 years prior to the recent tsunami disaster, the ICRC is coordinating the response of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in those areas.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is mobilizing efforts in the southern and south-western coastal areas.
Relief activity began within hours of the wave striking the island, with local ICRC and Sri Lanka Red Cross Society staff helping to take injured people for treatment and to recover bodies. They also began distributing essential household items to families who had lost their homes or were unable to return to them. By 8 January, over 20,000 families (estimated at an average of five members each) had received kits typically comprising a bucket, three bed sheets, two plastic mats, a cooking set and soap. Clothing and lanterns were also distributed to thousands of families. A further 10,000 families are currently receiving similar aid. In total, the ICRC plans to assist about 30,000 families.
The ICRC has also delivered essential medical items such as vaccines, antibiotics and bandages to hospitals in Mullaittivu and Kilinochchi in northern Sri Lanka. Work is under way both there and in Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara in the east of the island to improve access to clean water and to provide sanitation for victims of the disaster. National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from across the world are providing invaluable support in both areas. Many have sent aid ranging from basic relief supplies to water-purification equipment and health-care units, and staff to operate them.
The items distributed by the ICRC and the Sri Lankan Red Cross were either purchased locally or brought in on special cargo flights from the ICRC's logistics base in Nairobi and from Geneva.
The ICRC effort to help the victims is basically fourfold: provide displaced families with essential household items in order to ensure hygienic living conditions; supply shelter during the initial emergency phase; furnish access to safe drinking water; and give basic health care.
Meanwhile, the ICRC and the Sri Lankan Red Cross have been working together to help disaster victims across the country restore contact with their families, by enabling them to telephone relatives in Sri Lanka or abroad. In addition, the ICRC has launched a special website (www.familylinks.icrc.org) to provide information for people inside the region and around the world concerned about the safety of loved ones.
The ICRC has about 350 staff currently working out of its delegation in Colombo and its sub-delegations and offices in Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Jaffna, Mannar, Mallavi, Puthukkudiyiruppu and Muthur.
The organization is cooperating closely with its partners in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement: the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Sri Lankan Red Cross and other National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
For more information please contact:
Marçal Izard, ICRC Colombo, tel. +94 11 250 33 46 or 7 / +94 777 28 96 82
Jessica Barry, northern and north-eastern Sri Lanka, tel. +94 773 15 77 04
Eros Bosisio, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 21 01 / +41 79 217 32 64
Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 20 63 / +41 79 217 32 16
Pictures and stories from the field at www.icrc.org