Focus, must, on terror bombing survivors | Daily News

Focus, must, on terror bombing survivors

With the Easter Sunday carnage gradually receding to the background, as the nation strives to pick up the pieces and while other issues crop up, there is a tendency to forget the plight of the injured and surviving victims of the church bombings. This was seen even in the case of the Tsunami survivors, most of whom are still languishing without support, although a ceaseless volume of funds were pouring in from all quarters to alleviate their conditions. On that occasion too, the tragedy was overtaken by other events, mostly political, with a Presidential Election in the offing. Presently too, the country is on the cusp of a Presidential Election, and, already, the Easter Sunday terror attacks have been sidetracked by other distractions, the latest being, which community or religion can claim ownership to the country, following the statement attributed to Minister Mangala Samaraweera that Sri Lanka is not a Sinhala Buddhist country, or, words to that effect.

There is also the raging dispute between the Executive and the legislature over the legality of the Parliament Select Committee, appointed to probe the security lapses, that led to the Easter Sunday terror bombings, added to the death fast by a Buddhist Monk and the release of the controversial Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera from prison, under a Presidential pardon. These events have, naturally, taken the public focus away from the single most horrendous incident of bloodletting in this country, since the end of the war.

It is in this backdrop that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has initiated a fund to help the survivors and the injured victims of the Easter Sunday carnage, raising hopes that these unfortunate souls would not be consigned to the forgotten things of limbo like some of their Tsunami counterparts.

According to our front page story of last Tuesday, the Government has taken measures to establish a special fund for children left disabled or orphaned due to the Easter Sunday bombings. In this regard the Prime Minister's office has noted that the fund would be established with Rs.500 million, and, while, the Government will grant Rs. 100 million, the balance Rs. 400 million would be added up as donations. The Government will also bear the cost of overseas treatment of those who require it, while a special programme has been implemented to identify specific needs of those affected.

This indeed is a most thoughtful move by the Government. We say this because there are scores of families who have lost their breadwinners which certainly would have left them in dire straits and in desperate need of succour. Among these families there, no doubt, are children whose education would be disrupted for want of financial resources to continue with an uninterrupted school life. Among the survivors there may be those who are old and feeble and the sick who are in need of expensive drugs and other medication on a daily basis, but for the lost of their breadwinners, they would have been readily supplied with. Ditto for the invalid members of some of these families, confined to Elders’ Homes and hostels, who would now no longer have anybody to settle their bills of these expensive care giving centres. It was reported that two children of the same family who lost both parents were attending an International School due to the family's affluent circumstances. What would be the future of these two children whose future may be bleak without financial support to maintain their former standard of living, and, what is more, their educational prospects?

The Government is duty bound to continue providing all the facilities and comforts enjoyed by these surviving families, before tragedy struck, and, for which tragedy, the Government, as a whole, has to take the sole responsibility. This, even the Prime Minister has acknowledged in the immediate aftermath of the carnage. The total number killed has been placed at 261, while compensation has so far been paid on behalf of 174 of them. Medical records pertaining to 226 persons out of 407 injured, have been received and compensation has been paid to them (medical reports are awaited of the rest before compensation will be paid to them as well).

Monetary compensation alone is not going to bring them solace. The survivors and the injured should also be given the necessary psychological support that will help them come to terms with the tragedy that has beset their lives. The Church can help the Government in this respect by offering spiritual solace to the affected. We are certain that His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith had given thought to this vital aspect and made all arrangements to offer counselling to the victims to help them emerge out of their nightmare and help rebuild their lives. It is important that the Government maintains a constant focus on the plight of the Easter Sunday terror victims. We say this because impending national elections may see them out of the radar and become a forgotten lot when the political dog fights take precedence over anything else. That is unless their plight is dragged into the centre stage, during the election campaign, by crafty politicians’ thirsting for a return to power.

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