Sri Lanka (MNN) — As fighting in eastern Sri Lanka continues
to force thousands from their homes, World Vision is delivering critical
relief assistance to displaced children and families. Safe access to volatile
areas remains a key challenge. The recent escalation in hostilities has created
a humanitarian crisis in eastern Sri Lanka, with more than 155,000 homeless and
living in displacement camps.
"We're coWorld Vision'sncerned that this crisis could worsen in the
coming weeks," says Rein Paulsen, Senior Director for
Emergency Response. Many communities in the conflict zone are still recovering
from the 2004 Asia tsunami, when families lost everything. Now they've been
uprooted from their homes again, and have no way to feed or educate their children."
As fighting has intensified in the past week, World Vision
has been distributing water, food, mats, tarps for shelter, water containers
and other essential supplies to families living in displacement (IDP) camps in the
East, being the hands and feet of Christ. The protection and well-being of
children in the camps is a key focus of the agency's work.
10 year old Nishadini has already escaped from fighting
three times in recent months: "We walked for five days without food and
rested very little. When we found a little water, we drank," she says of
her family's most recent ordeal. "We all lay down the moment we heard a
plane. When we got up so many people lay dead. We would just leave them there
and keep going," she shakes her head. Nishadini and her family of seven
now live in Iyankerni IDP camp in Batticaloa.
Over the past several months, World Vision has distributed
aid to families trapped in the conflict areas in the Northern and Eastern
Provinces, including two resettlement areas, seven communities where the agency
already works, and in IDP camps.
Sri Lanka's two-decade-old ethnic conflict has claimed
hundreds of civilian lives. Despite a ceasefire signed in 2002 — which has now
expired — violence has continued to plague civilian communities, closing
schools for months at a time and forcing families to move frequently in search
World Vision has been working in Sri Lanka since 1977.
Current programs in community development, emergency relief and tsunami
recovery span 22 of the country's districts.