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Episcopal Relief & Development Continues Support in Sri Lanka

With heavy rains worsening the situation for displaced Sri Lankans, Episcopal Relief & Development is continuing to support the relief efforts.

Earlier this year, a battle between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers rebel group forced nearly 300,000 people to leave their homes. When the fighting ended, the government declared the 25-year conflict over and established camps to temporarily house internally displaced persons (IDPs) while they await resettlement. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) agreed to assist in providing relief services during that period.

The process has been slow, however. Four months later, the vast majority of IDPs still live in the temporary camps and NGOs are struggling to support the continuing needs. Adding to the problem, heavy rains in mid-August flooded the camps and destroyed the common kitchens, making IDPs even more vulnerable to hunger and disease.

Episcopal Relief & Development’s partners include the Organization of Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR), the Diocese of Colombo and the Diocese of Kurunagala. OfERR has been working in Sri Lanka’s Vavuniya district since last November and will continue assisting more than 11,800 in and around the Manik IDP camp for the next six months. In addition, the Dioceses of Colombo and Kurunagala are providing relief items and medicine to hospitals that have been treating IDPs since early 2009, according to Nagulan Nesiah, Episcopal Relief & Development Program Officer for Asia.

The IDPs are dependent on humanitarian aid for survival, as they have limited movement within the camps as per government restrictions. "Our support will enable our partners to continue supplying critical food relief, as well as personal hygiene supplies, bedding, cooking utensils and other basic items that most people were forced to leave behind when they fled," Nesiah said.

According to Nesiah, many IDPs are experiencing frustration and stress, and some are suffering depression and anxiety. "Our partners are also providing trauma care and psychosocial support to IDPs, who have experienced many years of war and violence, as well as being forced from their homes," he said.

"We will continue monitoring the situation to ensure that OfERR and our diocesan partners have the support they need to continue serving them."

For more information on Episcopal Relief & Development and our partners’ work in Sri Lanka, visit www.er-d.org. To support Episcopal Relief & Development’s disaster programs, please make an online donation to the Disaster Response Fund at https://www.er-d.org/donate-select.php, or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief & Development, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States. As an independent 501(c) (3) organization, Episcopal Relief & Development takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development strengthens communities today to meet tomorrow’s challenges. We rebuild after disasters and empower people by offering lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.



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