Starvation, disease more deadly than danger from mines- TRO

[TamilNet, Thursday, 30 December 2004, 13:37 GMT]
Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) appealed to other relief help organizations not to be daunted by the threat due to mines and not to delay relief coming to the most needed areas. TRO, in a press release said it considers “that dangers caused by free floating mines are far less significant when compared to the dangers of death by starvation and disease.” TRO urged the relief agencies to keep sending relief supplies to all areas. "In Mulliyavalai and Puthukkudiyiruppu areas UNHCR and ICRC are fully engaged in relief effort," TamilNet correspondent, said, assuring other agencies still unwilling to enter difficult areas.

The organisation added that it has well trained de-mining staff who are fully prepared to address dangers caused by mines, while providing relief to those affected by the tidal waves.

“Our staff and volunteers live in this environment and have always been exposed to these risks and have the acquired the expertise and capability to address these concerns,” said the press release.

Though the full extent of the destruction is still being ascertained, as of 30 December 2004 we can confirm the following:

Batticaloa, Amparai, Trincomalee districts in Eastern provinces and Mullaitivu and Jaffna in the north are the areas worst affected by the tsunami, reported the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), the only aid organisation currently active in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

More than fifty villages have been completely devastated. The initial assessment indicates more than 11,020 deaths and around 19,434 injured, said a representative of the organisation, adding “The death figure is likely to increase as the rescue and recovery operations continue.”

Nearly half a million people are displaced from their homes and have moved to interior villages and towns – but without adequate shelter, food and clothing, says the TRO. Many of the victims are women and children.

TRO has effectively formed significant number of volunteer groups through its district office structures. Along with other local NGOs, some international NGOs and LTTE’s medical units, TRO is currently engaged in the rescue and efforts to provide relief. The initial focus is on the provision of food, drinking water, medical assistance, burying the dead and clearing the debris, the TRO officials said.

“TRO currently has significant human resources to address these immediate needs and is also in a position to increase this capacity through forming further volunteer groups and securing the assistance of experts from the Tamil diaspora. However, the magnitude of the disaster demands significantly higher material resources than those available to TRO at the present time,” said a press release issued by the TRO.

TRO, however, pointed out that it is facing shortage of nursing staff.

“TRO appeals to the international community to provide much needed assistance to meet this enormous challenge. TRO staff and volunteers are locals who have faced the brunt of this devastation and are working with passion to help their affected fellow citizens. TRO has made calls to the Tamil diaspora through its 14 overseas offices to solicit financial and physical assistance to deal with operational challenges and for expert assistance and the response has been encouraging. But more has to be done,” the release said.

The immediate phase of the relief operation must be followed up quickly by preventive efforts to address water borne diseases, warned the TRO.

The organisation added that it has well trained de-mining staff who have undergone extensive training including training provided by UN Agencies and are in full readiness to address dangers caused by mines.

“Our staff and volunteers live in this environment and have always been exposed to these risks and have the acquired the expertise and capability to address these concerns,” said the press release.

 

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