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Water and sanitation critically needed for Sri Lankaos war-affected

[AlertNet, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 10:40 No Comment]

Aid agencies prepare for second wave of people from the conflict zone.


While government authorities and UN and aid agencies prepare to receive the second wave of people from the conflict zone, water and sanitation are still in critically short supply in the existing camps. Organisation in the camps in Vavuniya has improved over the past few days since a mass exodus of nearly 120,000 people fled the conflict zone two weeks ago. But as the initial turmoil has passed, aid agencies are dealing with the massive logistical issues that go along with meeting the needs of people in such large camps.


Emergency trench toilets were erected immediately as a temporary measure, but these urgently need to be replaced with semi-permanent latrines to prevent the spread of disease and ensure sanitation in the camps. While CARE International and other agencies are installing water taps and tanks, the relief response is still struggling to bring in enough water, particularly as the dry season approaches.


Initial international funding became available when the fighting escalated in January, but needs have greatly increased as the population in the camps nearly tripled in little more than two weeks.


“There are more than 186,000 displaced people now who have managed to reach the camps. Until these people can go home, long-term funding will be needed to ensure their basic needs are met,” said CARE Sri Lanka Country Director Nick Osborne, who just returned from Vavuniya, where the majority of the displaced people are in camps.


“People were on the run for months, faced significant hardships, surviving without enough food and water. We need to make sure that in these camps, they can access food, clean water and sanitation. We urgently need additional funding to meet the current needs of the people already in the camps, let alone prepare for the second wave of people out of the conflict zone, when they arrive.”


Tens of thousands of people are still trapped in the conflict zone in a tiny strip of land along the coast, and are expected to escape soon as the Government makes its final push against the LTTE.


Despite worldwide attention to one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today, the UN appeal for the relief response is only 30 per cent funded. Yesterday, the UN presented an emergency funding document to donors, identifying urgent needs of food, water and sanitation.


CARE is appealing for USD$9 million for its immediate emergency response and to assist in the long-term recovery of rebuilding homes, livelihoods, infrastructure and social services.


About CARE: CARE, which has worked in all parts of Sri Lanka since 1950, has extensive experience working with conflict-affected communities in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. Throughout the 25-year conflict, CARE has provided support for food production, infrastructure rehabilitation, savings and credit, income generation, and emergency assistance such as shelter, access to water and sanitation facilities.


Media contacts:
Melanie Brooks (Colombo), +94 773 205105, brooks@careinternational.org
Deborah Underdown (London) 020 7934 9417, underdown@careinternational.org

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