01/12/2009, 00.00
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Aid for northern fishermen who fled the war between Tamil Tigers and the army

by Melani Manel Perera
The National Fisheries Solidarity Movement donates engines, nets and other gear. The distribution was carried out by Fr Seemanpillai Jayabalan, local co-ordinator for an IDP aid organisation in Nanattan, where 102 farming and fishing families of live.
Mannar (AsiaNews) – The National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) is providing aid to the fishermen of Aripputhurie who are now refugees in the Nanattan area, a few kilometres south of Mannar, as a result of fighting between Tamil Tigers and the army. NAFSO is donating 15 boats, fishing nets and other gear worth a total of LKR 4 million (about US$ 38,000).

The fishermen, who were displaced in 2007 by the conflict, are now trying to rebuild their business amid countless obstacles.

Even though the government has publicly stated that the area in which they now are is safe, they have only been authorised to fish during the day, which “is pointless,” said one fisherman. They are also prevented from leaving the area.

By this gesture NAFSO wants to show the solidarity of the southern part of the country to its fellow citizens from the north.

The ceremony, which took place on 5 January, was also attended by Herman Kumara, General Secretary of the World Forum for Fisher people.

“We know that this [equipment] is not sufficient,” Mr Kumara said in his address, “but we trust our capacity to extend our solidarity to you. [. . .] We, as a people’s organization, are not satisfied with bringing you relief assistance but we do understand how you can feel when you lose your livelihood. Our purpose is to build understanding, unity and fraternity among fisher people.”

NASCO’s outgoing divisional secretary for Nanattan, N. Thiruganasampanther, who attended the event on 5 January along with his successor Mr Chandraaiya, echoed similar sentiments and said: “You are welcome and we appreciate very much your good will towards our affected and helpless people.”

About 102 fishing and farming families live in the Nanattan area.

Some 50 fishermen took part in the ceremony. Fr Seemanpillai Jayabalan (pictured), the main local co-ordinator for an organisation that distributes aid to Internally Displaced People (IDP) handed over the donations.

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