Soldiers helping load trucks, via ACT
Per more important things, there is a serious humanitarian situation in the North. Thankfully, Sri Lanka as a whole is woken up and everyone from church groups to companies to the government are collecting relief items and sending them up. Note that this is still a warzone and relief needs to go through the government and military. This is also an arena in which the international media and diaspora could help. Rather than attacking the government at this point we all need to unite to help the Sri Lankan citizens in need.
Personally, I’m working with a group of citizens called ACT Lanka. We delivered some basic supplies before Avurudu and are sending up a lot more in the next few weeks. When I went almost a month ago the hospitals were already overburdened, but with the thousands escaping from LTTE captivity they are now even more so. Last week the Chairman of ACT Lanka visited Padaviya and Vavuniya Hospitals. The reports are linked to. You can see how you can support ACT in the next phase here.
They need a lot of help, especially doctors/nurses, though I think a batch has been allocated to relieve them by the Ministry Of Health. Note that ACT is focusing on supplying the hospitals. The people I know directly supplying the IDP camps are the Red Cross (redcross.lk) and Sarvodaya (sarvodaya.org/donate).
The government has also opened up various channels for citizens to help in the relief effort. And the scale is so large that we really have to, for a long period of time.
If you’re raising goods with your church/company/temple/org, etc you still need transport into the affected areas. The Min Disaster Relief will help arrange that:
The Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services yesterday said it is aware that individuals, institutions and organizations are now collecting relief supplies such as new clothes, dry food, water bottles, biscuits, milk powder, tea, soap, tooth paste, toothbrushes and other basic needs from the public and institutions to be distributed to IDPs arriving at Transitional Relief Shelters in Vavuniya.
The Ministry while appreciating the interest to help these people in Vavuniya, asked them to contact the Director of National Disaster Relief Services Centre of the Ministry on 011 243 1579 / 243 1590 or the Secretary U. L. M. Haldeen on 011 2395513 to arrange for free transport to convey the collected items to the District Secretary, Vavuniya. (Daily Mirror)
The Min Def is also working with the media to raise goods for the collection at BMICH and Divisional Secretariats islandwide. They’re collecting milk, bottled water, dry rations, food items (biscuits), new clothes, other sanitary items, etc.
Note that it’s still difficult for internationals to contribute (though Sarvodaya does have a payment gateway). Even locally, things aren’t insanely organized on the civil service level. The armed force are generally organized and have been supplying our people, including a recent airlift, but they need more help.
The people coming out have been herded across the Wanni by the LTTE, been forced into fighting and labor and kept as human shields. They’re pretty shell-shocked and scarred and they need a long-term commitment from us to be made whole. This is not to forget the soldiers either. So many have sacrificed for us to even have a shot at unity and freedom that we can’t let it go to waste. It has to start with relief now, but we have to stay focused to actually take care of our people so this never happens again.
Note that someone is also maintaining a list of relief activities at savevanni.blogspot.com. Please help out however you can.