TRO Executive meets with UN Secretary General

[TamilNet, Sunday, 09 January 2005, 13:43 GMT]
The Executive Director of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), Mr. K. P. Regi, met with United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, at a meeting Sunday convened for a selected group of civil society representatives, sources in Colombo said. Mr. Regi handed over an appeal to the Secretary General. Some of the participants expressed the view that the centralised set-up planned by the Government of Sri Lanka is not effective, contains many bureaucratic bottlenecks and not sufficiently transparent to direct an equitable distribution of relief.

They were referring to the three task forces formed by Sri Lanka's President Kumaratunge Tuesday - one for rescue and relief (TAFRER), one for Rebuilding the Nation (TAFREN) and the other for Logistics, Law and Order (TAFLOL).

Kofi Annan meets with humanitarian and civil organisations

Representatives from ICRC, OXFAM, FORUT, Save The Children, Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA), Dr Kumar Rupasinghe from Civil Society Forum, Neela Marikkar president of Sri Lanka First (a group comprising of business leaders advocating negotiated settlement to ethnic conflict), and various representatives from ethnic organizations participated in the meeting that took place at Jai Hilton Hotel Sunday evening.

Participatns stressed that de-centralisation and effective coordination are important, Regi told TamilNet.

Kofi Annan meets with humanitarian and civil organisations

Mr Annan told the participants that it is critically important that all civil society organizations openly express their concerns so that an effective mechanism to conduct relief operations can evolve.

The meeting focused on the impact of the tsunami disaster and the participation of the civil society in disaster response and in the long-term recovery operations.

Mr Regi submitted a letter to the Secretary General detailing how the TRO is leading the effort in the NorthEast to provide urgent and immediate relief.

Excerpts from the letter follows:

"Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) mobilized within hours of this tragedy and deployed truck loads of critical relief items. We write to you, on this occasion of your visit to Sri Lanka, to provide information on our relief operations since the 26 December 2004 tragedy and our “self-help” strategy for relief and recovery," the letter said.

Describing TRO's efforts in the disaster and relief operations the letter said: " Our organization mobilized immediately by clearing dead bodies and debris. In the period leading up to yesterday, we have dispatched 137 trucks (938 metric tones) of relief items (which includes volumes of international aid and government distribution), clothing and food items, tents for 3,200 families and 40,000 temporary sanitation facilities in collaboration with international organizations. Jointly with other organization we have 40 operational medical units. In the Jaffna district, we have effectively consolidated 35 camps into 17 currently operated by us and other local organizations (with aid from international agencies and the government). In Trincomalee, we have commenced preparatory work to resettle 900 families (with support from the International Organization of Migration),"

On support from local and Tamil Diaspora community, the letter said: "In this time of need, Tamils from our local and Diaspora communities have galvanized behind us. On the ‘ground’ in the north and east, our 3500 local personnel spread across our eight district offices are being assisted in the rescue and relief efforts by a 5500 strong team of volunteers. On days immediately after 26 December 2004, the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization mobilized 12,000 in the region.

Over a hundred professionals from the Diaspora network and the international community are presently working with us in afflicted regions and in our Colombo Office. Twelve medical teams (including fifty-two doctors from the Diaspora and eighteen international doctors) are addressing and assessing the health situation to curtail a major disease epidemic; fifteen engineers are considering options for immediate and long-term rebuilding of shelters, water purification and sanitation; local psychiatrists are attending to many who were traumatized by the tidal waves; and others are directly involved with coordinating relief efforts from the Colombo office."

The letter concluded outlining the strategy of the TRO for providing long term relief and recovery to the affected people: "With the ever reliable assistance of our Diaspora community and the continued support of the international community, the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization has developed into a pivotal humanitarian agency. An analysis of our response and strategy since the 26 December 2004 will demonstrate that our policy is based on clear and strategic thinking, practical solutions, strong logistical support and rapid response times. Our strategy is based on an in-depth understanding of the critical health issues facing the displaced population and it is based on a self-help foundation.

"We are now mobilizing to construct short-term welfare centers with improved sanitation standards, and organized and continuous access to food, water and medicine. Self-sufficiency or self-help is our major priority – the improved conditions at these short-term facilities will help in the road to rehabilitation and recovery as the afflicted will have access to contribute to their recovery through employment and awareness on public health and psychological issues.

"We appreciate the support the United Nations and other international organizations have demonstrated in the past and we must credit them for their hand in our development. In this desperate time of need, we, the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization, urge the United Nations to substantially increase their support and help us cater to the desperate needs of those in the north and east."

Sri Lanka Government had earlier blocked Kofi Annan's intended visit to the tsunami affected areas of Mullaitivu in LTTE controlled areas, irking United Nations officials.


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