Relief assistance pouring in
Relief assistance have
started to pour in for the displaced civilians of the North
reminiscent of the post Tsunami scenario four years ago. On that
occasion aid and assistance snowballed into a deluge as big as
the cataclysmic tidal wave that swept away everything in it’s
The nation is still picking up the pieces of that catastrophe
where tens of thousands of families were rendered homeless.
Although not of the same magnitude the huge civilian exodus from
the LTTE controlled areas is the nearest the nation has come to
in confronting a parallel situation. Much like in the aftermath
of the Tsunami there is today an outpouring of emotion and
sentiment for the plight of the victims. So it is with
Already we see volunteer groups, civil society organisations
and the clergy banding themselves together to dispatch relief
supplies to the displaced. Hopefully this relief would grow in
volume in the coming days with more and more contributions from
the general public adding to the kitty.
With the figures of the displaced mounting with each passing
day with more and more civilians fleeing the LTTE into the safe
arms of the Security Forces the humanitarian situation could but
The Government alone would find it a Herculean task to
provide all the requirements of these civilians a 100 per cent
even with the foreign assistance it will receive in abundance.
It will be placed in a dilemma to meet the gargantuan task of
not only feeding these civilians for an indefinite period until
they are totally resettled but also rebuilding their lives and
Of course relief both in cash and kind has already started to
flow in and is bound to increase to the scale of the assistance
received in the aftermath of the Tsunami catastrophe or even
On that occasion one recalls the flood of humanitarian
assistance that poured in from Sri Lankans both here and abroad.
Every Sri Lankan responded in whatever possible way to the
appeals for cash or relief items to the victims of the Tsunami.
Even schools temples, churches kovils and mosques got into
action urging their devotees for assistance.
No less were the goodwill shown by foreign nationals both
individually and collectively who came to our assistance
independent of the donations given by their respective
Governments. One poignantly recalls how inmates of a junior
school in Arundel in East London rallied to make their own
contribution through a scheme known as ‘A Bob a Job’ whereby
students performed a task of labour for a small consideration.
The pennies collected which eventually added up to a tidy sum
were sent to the Sri Lankan Tsunami fund. The late Foreign
Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was at hand to receive this
It is hoped that similar gestures of goodwill and
consideration will be shown all round to the latest human
tragedy confronting Sri Lanka. Already we see spontaneous acts
of generosity with people and civic organisations of the South
rallying to the aid of their destitute brethren of the North.
Vehicles carrying relief supplies are already heading to the
Vanni. Today a group of 200 members of the Sangha are due to
take to the streets in certain parts of Colombo on a pindapatha
to collect relief items for the innocent civilians.
Addressing a media briefing the Ven Prof. Bellanwila
Wimalarathana Thera who is giving leadership to this project
said the event was to inspire people in the South to perform
their duty and responsibility towards their counterparts in the
Hopefully the Ven. Thera’s call would evoke a powerful
response from the public at large to contribute generously to
ameliorate the conditions of these hapless civilians. People in
the South are well known for their generosity and even
A large number of Tamil lives were saved during the Black
July due to risks taken by their Sinhala brethren to give them
accommodation. This spirit we are certain has not extinguished
from the Sinhala hearts even after all the bloodshed and carnage
during the two decades that followed.
The scenes of succour provided by our soldiers to the wounded
civilians perhaps would move and inspire them to extend their
largesse to these hapless people. It is time we realize that
these civilians had to face this plight due to the freak
circumstance of being born in a different geographical area of
the country. It is as they say an accident of birth.
This is all the more reason why we should empathise with them
and do everything possible to lift them out of their
The Government should in the meantime make strong appeals of
it’s own to individuals and the corporate sector to assist in
this humanitarian mission. It should think of offering
concessions such as tax exemptions in attracting sizeable
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already made appeals
highlighting the plight of these people who had lived under the
jackboot of the world’s most ruthless band of terrorists for so
long. The response to his calls would be an index of our
contribution to national unity and nation building.