World Vision: Monsoon rains put thousands at risk of disease in Sri Lanka camps



    COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, June 10 /CNW/ - Impending monsoon rains and
inadequate sanitation will place tens of thousands of people at risk from
disease in displacement camps in northern Sri Lanka, says the relief,
development and advocacy organization World Vision.
    The sanitation facilities in the largest camps where most of the
displaced are living are woefully inadequate. At least 11,500 more latrines
are needed in the camps to comply with international minimum standards. With
the monsoon season expected to arrive within the next two weeks, at least
2,500 are needed immediately to meet even the most basic needs and to prevent
a potential health crisis.
    "We are very worried about the outbreak of diseases. When the rains come
in two weeks or so I can't imagine what conditions will be like due to the
lack of any proper drainage and toilet system," said Suresh Bartlett, World
Vision Lanka's National Director.
    Unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation facilities give rise to
water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera as well as malaria and
dengue, with most fatalities being young children.
    Camps further north in Jaffna have already experienced rains. World
Vision has seen people there trying to keep their belongings dry by putting
them underneath overturned buckets. Mothers are also putting their babies in
hanging saris to keep them off the ground and out of flood waters.
    Although World Vision has access to work in the camps, it is now severely
short of the funds needed to respond.
    "I urge governments and individual donors to give freely. There are so
many crises in the world at this time - a financial crisis, a crisis in
Pakistan - but the needs of those who have survived the Sri Lanka conflict are
extreme. After surviving such a violent conflict, it will be extremely
unfortunate for the children and babies to now succumb to disease," said
Bartlett.
    Bartlett said there were a number of needs in the camps, including access
to clean water, food and shelter but added that the sanitation needs were
among the greatest.
    World Vision needs an additional $3.3 million from its offices around the
world, including Canada, to support its response in the displacement camps in
Sri Lanka. World Vision is urgently calling on Canadians to support this
response, and those wishing to help can call 1-800-268-5528 or visit
www.WorldVision.ca.
    The 26-year-long conflict between the Sri Lanka Government and the
separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended on May 17th, with the
capture of the last strip of coastland occupied by the LTTE in northeast Sri
Lanka. Some 280,000 displaced persons are now accommodated in camps in
Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna districts in northern Sri Lanka and Trincomalee in
the East.

    
    Notes:

    -   World Vision is working with other aid agencies to support and care
        for the displaced persons in the camps. The organization is providing
        shelter, food, water and family packs of essential items and is
        supplying top-up food, and supplementary nutritional food to children
        under five and nursing mothers.

    -   World Vision continues to advocate for the adherence to international
        minimum standards (SPHERE) in camp management, support and care for
        the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in line with guiding
        principles on IDPs and a speedy return of IDPs to their own homes or
        locations of their choice.

    -   During the last six weeks, World Vision has trucked five million
        litres of water, distributed 100,000 packs of cooked food and
        supplied 60 metric tons of complementary food to the communal
        kitchens.

    -   World Vision donors support more than 61,577 children in Sri Lanka,
        including 17,500 children sponsored by Canadians. Sponsored children
        are not in the conflict zone. World Vision began working in Sri Lanka
        in 1977.

    -   World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy
        organization dedicated to working with children, families and
        communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves
        all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.
    





For further information:

For further information: To interview World Vision staff, please
contact: Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),
yoko_kobayashi@WorldVision.ca; Alex Sancton, (905) 565-6200 ext. 3949, (416)
419-1321 (cell), alex_sancton@WorldVision.ca


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