At Friday’s [15 August 2008] high level policy meeting of the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance [CCHA], the Chair Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights and Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, M.P. Senior Advisor to H.E. the President, addressed humanitarian issues faced by the people of the Vanni. While reiterating the continuous commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) in providing humanitarian assistance to its people in the Vanni; Minister Samarasinghe and Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, M.P requested the Government Agents of Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya to present the current situation in order for immediate assistance to be provided.
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Both Government Agents (GA’s) of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu confirmed that IDP’s are housed at schools in areas of displacement with further plans to settle them in shelters during the coming weeks. They also informed the CCHA that contingency plans have been drawn up to accommodate any further increase in IDPs. This is contrary to recent reports on IDP’s living under trees.
The GA’s informed that there is a buffer stock of food available for two weeks coupled with the Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development and World Food Programme (WFP) providing food rations for a period of one month. The Ministry of Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services informed that they have already released a sum of Rs. 15 million for the Kilinochchi district and Rs. 8 million for the Mullaitivu district to meet the needs of the people. A further two lorry loads of clothing, kitchen utensils, water containers, tarpaulins and other essential items will be sent next week to the Vanni. In addition to this, the Ministry continues to supply dry rations for protracted IDPs in the area. The Ministry of Health informed that the request for medical items by the Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS) is ready for transportation; the Commissioner General of Essential Services (CGES) has approved the said items. The Government assured the GA’s of full facilitation in order to enable them to deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need without delay.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Neil Buhne thanked the Government Agents for the excellent work undertaken in order to provide humanitarian assistance to the people. He further expressed his appreciation for the cooperation extended by the GoSL to the UN and humanitarian agencies in carrying out their work in the Vanni.
The CCHA, chaired by Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights, is a high-level committee appointed to deal with important policy issues concerning humanitarian assistance. The CCHA meets monthly and is attended by Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaska, Secretary/Ministry of Defence; Mr Basil Rajapaksa, Advisor to the President, Secretaries of the ministries of: Foreign Affairs, Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development, Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Health; the Commissioner General of Essential Services (CGES); Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process; Chairman of the Co-chairs and Ambassador to the United States of America – His Excellency Robert O. Blake; Representative of the Presidency of the European Union – Ambassador to France – His Excellency Michel Lummaux; Head of Delegation of the European Union, Mr Neil Buhne the Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator of the UN; heads of ICRC, UNHCR, UNOCHA; ECHO and the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA).
The co-chairs of sub-committees developed under the CCHA: Resettlement and Welfare, Logistics and Essential Services, Livelihoods, Health, and Education, represented by high-level Government officials and UN heads of agencies – UNHCR, WFP, ILO, UNICEF, and WHO, were also present to update members on progress made to date. The sub-committees address operational issues that fall within their respective areas. (Ends.)
W. A. S. Lalkumara
Deputy Director Media
15 July 2008
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