05/05/2009, 00.00
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Fifty million dollars needed to deal with humanitarian emergency

by Melani Manel Perera
The Sri Lankan government is waiting for assistance from the international community. About 200,000 refugees are sheltering in camps run by the military in Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna. The authorities plan to provide hot meals and other help to the Internally Displaced People.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said that Sri Lanka’s refugee situation requires US$ 50 million in immediate assistance. He made the request during a meeting with UN agencies and representatives of donor countries.

The Sri Lankan government has called on the international community to provide assistance for some 200,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who are now living in government-run relief camps in Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna.

They all need urgent assistance and the authorities are preparing a plan to provide them with hot meals and other help.

“The aid package would be spent on the IDPs according to an action plan to be worked out by the government,” a ministry spokesperson said.

Calls for clothing and other humanitarian help are coming from relief camps.

Temporary schools have opened in some refugee transit centres set up by the military with pupils receiving teaching material, pens and notebooks.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already announced that his government will provide a billion rupees in aid (US$ 20 million). India has already sent 40,000 aid kits for displaced families. Another 50,000 should follow shortly.

The Church is also continuing to provide help, raising funds and collecting medicine, food and clothing.

Fr Damian Fernando, head of Caritas Sri Lanka, said that Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has responded to an appeal made by the Sri Lankan government by sending US$ 30,000 to help war victims with food and medicine.

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