Swizerland pledges help for tsunami affected, school reconstruction

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 04 April 2006, 11:57 GMT]
In a press release issued in Colombo Tuesday Switzerland pledged 8.5 million USD (850 million Rupees) to support the house owner driven reconstruction programme of the Government of Sri Lanka. This comes in addition to the 7 million USD pledged in 2005.

Full text of the press release follows:

The Head of the Humanitarian Aid of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Mr Toni Frisch, the Head of Asia Division within the Humanitarian Aid, Mr. Willy Lehnherr and Mr. Felix Bollmann, Managing Director of Swiss Solidarity, the humanitarian fundraising branch of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, visited Sri Lanka on 3rd and 4th April 2006. The visit focussed on the main Post Tsunami Programme financed by Switzerland: The house owner driven reconstruction programme of Tsunami affected people and the school reconstruction programme.

For the reconstruction efforts Switzerland created a Consortium consisting of SDC, Swiss Solidarity, the Swiss Red Cross and Swiss Interchurch Aid HEKS. The Consortium is acting as the institutional framework to use the humanitarian aid resources the people of Switzerland have made available for post tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka efficiently.

Under this programme Switzerland rehabilitates a total of 8,544 houses in the districts of Matara and Trincomalee. The first phase of the programme is being implemented efficiently and is expected to be finalized by the end of this month.

The recent decision by the Government to modify the initial Buffer Zone, extending the area where tsunami affected people will be allowed to rebuild or rehabilitate their homes also implies a substantial increase of potential beneficiaries. Switzerland agreed to continue and expand its programme into a new phase in the districts of Matara and Trincomalee. Therefore during the visit, the Ambassador of Switzerland, HE Bernardino Regazzoni and Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance signed an amendment to the existing Memorandum of Understanding covering an additional 8.5 Million USD. SDC also expressed its willingness to contribute to co-ordination initiatives at the national level and to technical support.

SDC starts its school reconstruction programme in Matara

Mr Toni Frisch and Mr. Felix Bollmann on Tuesday participated in the Foundation Stone Laying for the Sariputra School in Matara. The ceremony marked the launch of the construction phase of the school reconstruction programme of SDC in Matara. After having successfully completed the temporary school programme SDC is currently engaged in the construction of new school buildings. Switzerland will rehabilitate eight schools for more than 8’400 students in the Matara district. The total cost of the programme, which will last until early 2008, is expected to be above 8.6 million USD.

School reconstruction programme in Jaffna

Besides its engagement in the South, SDC is active on the Jaffna peninsula, where it launched a post-conflict school rehabilitation program in 2003. The construction of 13 out of 17 schools has already been completed. The construction of the last school of the post-conflict project was launched two weeks ago. SDC was also tasked to rehabilitate six tsunami-affected schools with more than 3’400 students. It is expected that the construction of four of these schools will be finished before the end of 2006. The other two schools will be ready in early 2007.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is the agency within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland dealing with Humanitarian and Development programmes. It is represented in Sri Lanka by a coordination office in Colombo and field offices in Matara and Jaffna. SDC started its activities in Sri Lanka in 2003. It increased its support drastically following the tsunami.

SDC also funds international agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for their humanitarian activities. Furthermore SDC supports de-mining activities and development projects of Swiss NGOs.

 

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