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The Independent from London, Greater London, England • Page 5
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The Independent from London, Greater London, England • Page 5

The Independenti
London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

THE INDEPENDENT Friday 31 December 2004 In Sri Lanka, volunteers are battling to deliver aid to the desperate An Indian air force helicopter arrives to evacuate tourists from the devastated Sri Lankan coastal town of Galle By Stephen Khan in Galle, Sri Lanka A LACK of Co-ordination is hampering the Sri Lankan disaster relief effort, according to volunteers struggling to deliver vital supplies to the island's devastated coastal communities. Despite government claims that plenty of food, medicine and water were getting through to the worst-affected areas, outreach teams spoke of lorryloads of aid stranded miles away from thousands of needy people. Meanwhile, aircraft packed with relief materials from abroad were stuck at the international airport due to a lack of transport facilities and other organisational problems. As the country prepared to observe a memorial day for the more than 27,000 people it has lost, complaints mounted that the emergency operation was in chaos. Volunteers who had been sent to deliver aid to the shattered town of Galle on and took responsibility for aid packages.

However, getting the supplies to stricken communities proved to be more difficult First came conflicting information about which villages were most in need. It then became clear that the access roads to many of these villages could not be passed by the large lorries, or by the bus which the volunteers were travelling in. "The net result of bad information and a lack of co-ordination is that truckloads of aid are just sitting around this country waiting to be delivered," said a German volunteer. operation set up in the shadow of Colombo's opulent Plaza Hotel. Pamela Podoro, a Canadian living in Sri Lanka, and a group of volunteers sprung into action immediately after disaster struck.

Their attempts to send lonyloads of medical supplies and other vital materials were swiftly backed by the Sri Tankan Red Cross (SLRC). Volunteer numbers swelled as tourists from a neighbouring hotel saw the Red Cross's appeals for help and signed up. However, with outreach teams being dispatched across the country, the the southern tip of the island yesterday said that 75 trucks were stuck on the road into the area. And to the north, Tamil Tiger leaders claimed they were not being given any aid from the national government for the part of the country they control The Sri Lankan military, however, claimed it was the Tigers who were turning back lorries which were hound for an area where many thousands were missing. The move, it claimed, was aimed at securing international rather than Sri Lankan aid.

The situation of apparent chaos was typified by an ByCahalMilmo pathogens lasted only a short time after death. Instead, they warned that contaminated fresh water and common stomach upsets will weaken survivors who are al relationship soured over strategy differences and the SLRC removed its support Volunteers were immediately told to remove their Red Cross bibs. The Podoro group and others are having extreme difficulty getting supplies directly into the hands of those who need it most. There are continued reports of looting in the south and east of the country. Teams dispatched to the Galle area earlier this week reported that as many as 75 lorryloads of aid were backed up outside the town.

Mrs Podoro said; "We are doing our best to get many, many people could die if we are not able tP reach people in time with safe water. Diseases are spread by contaminated water, drinking water and water used to clean food" Health experts said that an increase in the number of di Race against time to avert killer epidemics, says WHO clean water, food and medicines to communities first by the sea and now threatened by disease. But it is not proving easy. Yesterday, aid was finally reaching the inhabitants of Galle, but refugees were still drinking water from broken pipes by the roadside, A priest at Galle Cathedral said that aid reaching the town was coming from local sources rather than the government The problem of distribution is equally severe in the north and east Volunteers who had been tourists inland at Kandy made their way to the town of Trincomalee arrhoea cases was to be expected after a natural disaster but that it was vital to make preparations for outbreaks Pf fatal disease, A WHO spokesman said: "We have only a narrow window to ensure that safe water sup- want a receipt ready facing low or non-existent food supplies Harsaran Pandey, the WHO spokeswoman in the disaster zone, said: "If a person gets dehydrated from diarrhoea, then that is when it gets serious and a person Can die. I would say ll Bbmb tick thii boa jfvoutto not wmt ta-iBcaha-farther irtbrmafitxl Hpjtl the Diaaatalt EmonjaneyCBpimltlaa jW feniamtUKtswwandlymtDeCta mcfcunrtaxl hM paid on mrdomttonM.

I Hi paid ah amount rf income tax BrctpW gaintiajiflqual to the tax ncaamed pflpfsr owny 2)-Source code INDpwtHTC diarrhoea CASES were reported to be increasing rapidly yesterday in the tsunami disaster zone and the United Nations warned that there could be only 48 hours to prevent a major outbreak pf wa-terborne diseases. The World Health Organisation said that millions of survivors faced a race against time to receive sufficient supplies of clean drinking to avert epidemics of conditions such as cholera, dysentery and dengue fever. As aid organisations dispatched medical supplies, including millions of water purification tablets, to the coastal rim of the Indian Ocean, there were growing reports of diarrhoeal outbreaks In the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India, Doctors played down the risk pf epidemics posed by the thousands of unburied bodies, saying that disease-causing lbs, I want to halp. Hwv Is my gift oft 15 30 60 100 pother enclose a chequepostal order made payable to DEC Tsunami Earthquake Or debit my VlsaDe)taMasterCrdSwitchVisa BectroiyJCEVCAF Card (please circle one) plies are secured. In many cases it could be as little as the next 48 The WHO has sent 33 emergency "kits" to the Indian Ocean, each Pf which is capable of providing medical care for 10,000 people for three months.

Aircraft from Britain, Germany, America and Japan arrived yesterday in Sri Lanka and Indonesia carrying water purification plants which can each provide supplies for 100,000 people. But organisers said them were also concerns that poor hygiene will leave young children at risk of respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. Dr David Nabarro, the WHQ's head pf crisis operations, said: "We remain really concerned. It's a normal anxiety that we have at this tune. We've got a clearer understanding pf the needs, but we've also got a clearer concern about the supplies THE INDEPENDENT APPEAL FORVOIMS OF THE TSUNAMI vvwwJndependemco.utvteunarriiappeal send your gift with the coupon to: Card lion Expiry Date: I I I I I Switch issue no: I I I EarthquakaAND Appeal, PO Box 4420, London WIT 7QX Please tick here if you Flrat nam Tins pjf Iftfff, ConunHtM .1.

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