beyond immediate relief
The loss of life, the damage to property and the injury to persons
caused by the unprecedented tidal wave disaster require action beyond
the mere collection of funds, food and water, essential utensils
and other items, in order to alleviate the suffering of those affected,
the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said in a statement last week.
said the CCC is liaising with the Ministry of Public Ordinance and
Internal Security and the Tourist Board to create a website, which
will contain information of displaced persons, presently accommodated
at refugee camps and other sites, facilities, such as e-mail, SMS
or telecommunication, through which messages may be conveyed to
them and the names of the deceased.
proposed website will, therefore, be developed without delay with
whatever information the Chamber may be able to gather, although
the records may not always be complete. The website will be regularly
updated, every twelve hours, and will be a dynamic database. It
will be launched today with the web address www.sossrilanka.lk.com.
Chamber is working in affiliation with Affno to create this website.
Information gathering and the updating of the website is being handled
by Chandra Vithanage (Phone 2422156) and Suresh Pathirana (Phone
2324573) and Sushani Wijeyatillake (Phone 2422156). Affno will be
in overall charge of the website.
work co-ordination and distribution
A key challenge facing the government and NGO's is the
co-ordination of relief work and the distribution of goods being
collected by numerous organizations and hastily mobilized civic
groups. Some guidance in this regard is imperative to eliminate
waste and to optimize efficacy.
high priority areas are - water, sanitation, food, shelter and health.
The needs list is - dry rations and canned food items; drinking
water; clothing; bedding (blankets, mats, pillows); medicines and
medical supplies and temporary shelter.
of funds should be restricted to recognized organizations, which
are subject to audit by the Auditor General or a reputed firm of
Chartered Accountants. Establishing internal control systems at
the outset is critical for proper accountability of donations, the
public should be cautioned immediately by a government communiqué
conveyed through the media, against supporting spurious groups,
which are deceitfully collecting funds, exploiting the surge of
Reports of distressed tourists being taken advantage of
by unscrupulous individuals have caused much concern. Help desks
for tourists should be set up at Police Stations and stern and effective
action against those who harass tourists must be imposed to help
protect them. Members of the CCC will be encouraged to accommodate
tourists in their homes till conditions return to some degree of
The most reprehensible act, apart from the exploitation
of hapless tourists, is the looting of hotels, shops and homes.
To immediately control this, regulations should be introduced to
severely punish those who have resorted to looting or found with
looted goods. The process of apprehending and prosecuting them should
be simplified. The Ministry of Public Ordinance and Internal Security
and the Inspector General of Police will be addressed on this matter.
This is an important phase, which should immediately follow
the provision of urgent relief to the affected. Towards this end
the CCC proposes a planned approach for rehabilitation, through
the engagement of relevant experts and professional organizations.
A well-planned settlement programme, to replace all unauthorized
structures, which could be potentially perilous, by safe and aesthetically
desirable buildings, should be initiated. This will contribute to
the rebuilding of the tourist industry and prevent displaced people
from resettling in unauthorized and unsafe buildings.
CCC website intends focusing on an appeal for international support
for re-construction and rehabilitation.