US Congressmen decry obstruction to tsunami aid flow to Northeast

[TamilNet, Thursday, 08 December 2005, 03:10 GMT]
Pointing out that "obstruction of legitimate help from USAID and private donations for the reconstruction effort in North East Sri Lanka continues," and that "Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has suspended P-TOMS and its future is mired in confusion and controversy," United States Congressmen, Sherrod Brown, Danny K Davis, Patrick Tiberi and Brad Sherman, in a letter addressed to US Assistant Secretary of State Ms Christina Rocca, urged the "State Department to carefully and dispassionately revisit the situation and consider alternatives that would allow relief aid to quickly reach those in desperate need."

Congressmen's letter
(Click on the image to view the original letter)
Full text of the letter follows:

Dear Ms. Rocca:

It has come to our attention that there may be obstacles hindering successful tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka. Given the consequences for the people of Sri Lanka, it would be tragic if reconstruction efforts are being needlessly compromised.

Congressman Sherrod Brown
Congressman Sherrod Brown, Democrat 13th District Ohio
Congressman Danny K Davis
Congressman Danny K Davis, Democrat 7th District Illinois
Congressman Brad Sherman
Congressman Brad Sherman, Democrat 27th District California
Congressman Patrick Tiberi
Congressman Pat Tiberi, Republican 12th District, Ohio
Above all, obstruction of legitimate help from USAID and private donations for the reconstruction effort in North East Sri Lanka continues.

We understand that both the United States and the international community welcomed the Norwegian brokered joint mechanism called "Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure" (P-TOMS), an aid sharing agreement signed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). The agreement, signed in June of this year, would give the LTTE a partnership role with the Sri Lankan government to reconstruct and distribute aid along the badly affected north and east coasts. However, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has suspended P-TOMS and its future is mired in confusion and controversy.

A number of leading experts on the region have addressed the benefits of a collaborative relief effort in Sri Lanka. Ambassador Teresita Shaffer, Director of the South Asia program at Center for Strategic and International Studies, has said that although tsunami relief and the peace process in Sri Lanka are not immediately connected, a U.S. policy that brings the LTTE and GoSL together as participants would benefit both goals.

During a July 2005 address to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, Robert C. Oberst, Professor of Political Science at Nebraska Wesleyan University, maintained that a reexamination of US policy on both the peace process and tsunami reconstruction is needed so both can progress.

For the sake of the tsunami victims, it is incumbent upon the State Department to carefully and dispassionately revisit the situation and consider alternatives that would allow relief aid to quickly reach those in desperate need.

A reevaluation by the U.S. State Department would demonstrate our nation's commitment to advancing tsunami reconstruction and could assist in facilitating cooperation between the Government of Sri Lanka and LTTE.

We appreciate your consideration and look forward to your timely response.

Signed:
Congressman Sherrod Brown
Congressman Danny K Davis
Congressman Brad Sherman
Congressman Pat Tiberi


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