Action Alert Archive
Continuing suffering, government corruption as tsunami anniversary passes
December 28, 2007
I am writing to call your attention to the misappropriation of tsunami aid in Sri Lanka. One hopes that an unprecedented disaster such as the 2004 tsunami would have transcended discrimination, but that is not the case in Sri Lanka. Three years after the tsunami, the predominately Sinhalese South is recovering strongly while the largely Tamil North East has received little assistance. At the time of the tsunami, the World Bank estimated that 2/3 of the damage was sustained by the North and East. However, the south is enjoying an "excess" of supplies, whereas Tamils and Muslims continue to languish in makeshift shelters, according to an AFP report. Those "shelters" have only palm-frond roofs and corrugated metal sheets for walls, and their inhabitants must also cope with the Sri Lankan Air Force's indiscriminate bombing raids. David Evans, chief technical adviser for UN Habitat in Sri Lanka, told Reuters that "the conflict has badly hampered or brought reconstruction work to a standstill in some parts of the north and east."
In the midst of all this, Transparency International (TISL), a watchdog group on corruption, states that the Sri Lankan government has only spent a mere 20% of the original $1.2 billion that was pledged for tsunami relief. "There has been no proper accounts kept on the money and we believe only a fraction of aid trickled down to the real victims," stated Rukshana Nanayakkara, a deputy executive director of TISL. Furthermore, TISL states that over $500 million in tsunami aid has gone "missing." TISL has reason to believe that some of the funds "have been utilized by the government for other purposes." We urge the U.S. government to demand that its tsunami aid, and the aid given by other countries, is used equitably to help tsunami victims throughout the island of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government should also be mandated to use all relief funds for those purposes only.
The mission of People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) is to end the systemic human rights abuses against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka, and promote equality, rights and justice on the island. PEARL is 501(c)3 non-profit organization led by human rights activists concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka.