For Immediate Release
Mercy Corps Prepares to Help Displaced Families in Northern Sri Lanka
Aid agency moves to bring water, sanitation and shelter to thousands of people who fled brutal conflict
PORTLAND, Oregon - The global relief and development agency Mercy Corps is taking steps to
help thousands of people displaced by recent intense conflict in northern Sri Lanka.
As the Sri Lankan Government declared an end to the war with Tamil separatists
that has plagued the country for decades, the aid agency highlighted the needs
of the many civilians who had been caught in the crossfire.
According to the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, approximately 265,000 people have fled fighting between
the government and the Tamil Tigers in the last several months. Most have fled
to large, overcrowded displacement camps in the Vavuniya District. A Mercy
Corps assessment team recently visited these camps, and found an intense need
for immediate resources such as food, shelter, water and sanitation.
Mercy Corps plans to begin
work by helping 1,000 displaced people gain access to potable water, latrines
and semi-permanent shelter. “The people living in these camps have been
terrorized by conflict and deprived of basic resources for months. They are on
the very edge of survival,” said Paul Armour, Mercy Corps country
director in Sri Lanka.
“Our goal is to help fill immediate needs, and then get these families
back on the road to recovery.”
Earlier this week, the
Sri Lankan army declared victory in its decades-long war against Tamil rebels.
According to news reports, most rebel leaders have been killed and the army now
controls all of the island for the first time since 1983. “The war may
have ended, but for many people the fight for survival is just
beginning,” said Armour.
Mercy Corps already has
significant operations in Sri Lanka,
where 90 development professionals have been helping families “build back
better” from the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean
tsunami. In the two hardest-hit coastal areas, Mercy Corps is helping job-rich
industries recover and fighting a food crisis that threatens the poorest
families. In Sri Lanka’s
Eastern Province, the agency is also working
with multi-ethnic associations to build trust and lay a foundation for peaceful