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No funds to meet needs of nearly 200,000 Northern IDPs due to govt refusal to endorse 2010 action plan

By Namini Wijedasa

With nearly 200,000 people still displaced in the North — some living in temporary camps while others squat with host families — international agencies are running out of money to meet urgent needs like water supply and resettlement grants, according to a report released last week.

The funding crisis follows the government’s refusal to endorse the 2010 Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP), authoritative sources said. Produced annually through a collaboration of all major humanitarian assistance groups in the country (including UN agencies), the CHAP is a document listing out priority areas for donor funding along with estimates. This is usually released to the international donor community by way of consolidated or flash appeal and offers information about sectors that require injections of aid.

In Sri Lanka, the CHAP is developed under the leadership of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The last appeal should have been sent to Geneva in January - or earlier - but has not been endorsed by the government which feels the mechanism is useless. Consequently, there is still no consolidated appeal for humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka this year.

LAKBIMAnEWS learns that the OCHA was in negotiations with the government until last week to have the document released after approval. But on Friday, a letter was issued to the OCHA by the presidential task force headed by Basil Rajapaksa saying the CHAP was no longer necessary. The government’s contention is that humanitarian and other assistance for the North and East should be channelled through the task force and line ministries rather than via the OCHA.

Authoritative sources said that the government was keen to put its stamp on development and other work carried out in the North, particularly during election time. “The government feels it would not be politically helpful for the population to think a lot of work is being carried out by non governmental agencies,” one UN source pointed out.

Against this backdrop, the Joint Humanitarian Update produced by the UN, other leading agencies and NGOs for the fortnight of 13 to 26 February indicates in understated language that a lack of funds may cause “gaps” to emerge in child protection and psychosocial counselling as well as prevention of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence. It adds that a closure or scaling down of projects across sectors — particularly education, health, food and nutrition — may have a detrimental impact on the overall protection environment.

Shortage

The report also discloses that, even as IDPs leave Menik Farm, a shortage of teachers continues to affect education services for children remaining at the camp. While a pool of volunteer teachers will be trained to fill this requirement, “decreasing funds will limit the scale of remuneration that can be offered to the group”.

Funding shortages are affecting the continued provision of water, sanitation and health services at Menik Farm, it states. The bowser fleet capacity had decreased by 50 percent at the end of February. Consequently, the supply standard of 10 litres per person is no longer being achieved.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board have also suspended its bowsers due to lack of funds. Aid agencies warn that the maintenance and decommissioning of water, sanitation and health facilities at Menik Farm, water bowsering and waste management are threatened by a lack of funding after March and April. As of 1 March, only three agencies are engaged in shelter maintenance at Menik Farm with the absence of funds compelling other shelter agencies to stop their activities.

The Joint Humanitarian Update states that 99,066 people are still accommodated in temporary camps at Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna. Menik Farm houses a majority of them, numbering 93,926.

While 183,755 people have been released and returned in Vavuniya, Mannar, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Polonnaruwa and Kandy, only 83,720 of them have been resettled in their places of origin. A staggering 98,843 are still living with host families. This would mean that nearly 200,000 people remain displaced.

Zone 5 in Menik Farm is now being used as a collection centre for IDPs during return movements, allowing them access to water and sanitation while they await transport to their districts of origin. The provision of cooked meals for IDPs at this centre may cease due to lack of funds.

Exceeded capacities

The report states that, although a number of NGOs have received approval to implement projects in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, “capacity” remains limited. “With increasing IDP returns to these areas, the need for shelter and water, sanitation and health facilities has exceeded capacities available on the ground,” it says.

Asked to clarify the couched terminology of the report, an authoritative UN official admitted on condition of anonymity that the resources of many humanitarian agencies dealing with IDPs are depleted.

“We are running into funding difficulties in some areas including activities we have been supporting at Menik Farm and in resettlement areas,” she said. “In resettlement areas, a critical gap is related to the cash grant for shelters. There are also gaps in assistance towards agriculture. We have received about five times the amount of requests that we have funding for.”

The official said some agencies were “on their last weeks of funding” and that it would then be the government’s responsibility to continue the services these organisations had been providing. “The government has indicated in our negotiations that it is willing and capable of doing that,” she noted. “It has already put substantial resources into Menik Farm and resettlement areas but the UN and non governmental organisations have also contributed substantially.”

At present, some agencies were drawing on leftover funds while others were spending monies directly contributed by donors bypassing the CHAP mechanism. The OCHA has also briefed donors to “try and cover the most urgent gaps” until an understanding is reached with the government about the way forward.

IDPs reeling -- no money - donors notified

Supply of water, sanitation and health facilities may grind to a halt for IDPs.
The UN and other humanitarian agencies are running out of resources to meet the urgent needs of internally displaced persons in the North.

Among the services hit by depleted funds are the supply of water to the nearly 100,000 IDPs remaining at Menik Farm in Vauniya.

Aid agencies warn that the maintenance and distribution of water, sanitation and health facilities at Menik Farm, water bowser facilities and waste management etc., are threatened by a lack of funds. As of 1 March, only three agencies are engaged in shelter maintenance at Menik Farm with the absence of funds compelling other relief agencies to stop their activities.

The fortnightly Joint Humanitarian Update released by the Inter Agency Standing Committee also stated that a closure or scaling down of projects across sectors — particularly education, health, food and nutrition — may have a detrimental impact on the overall relief environment.

The 2010 Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) is produced annually through a collaboration of all major humanitarian assistance groups in the country (including UN agencies). The CHAP is a document listing out priority areas for donor funding along with estimates. This is usually released to the international donor community by way of consolidated or flash appeal, and offers information about sectors that require injections of aid.

In Sri Lanka, the CHAP is developed under the leadership of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The last appeal should have been sent to Geneva in January, or earlier - but has not been endorsed by the authorities who feel the mechanism is useless. Consequently, there is still no consolidated appeal for humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka this year.

LAKBIMAnEWS learns that the OCHA was in negotiations with the authorities until last week to have the CHAP document released after approval. The contention of the authorities is that humanitarian and other assistance for the North and East should be channelled through the task force and line ministries rather than via the OCHA.

In its report last week the IASC also warns that a lack of funds may cause “gaps” to emerge in child protection and psychosocial counselling, as well as prevention of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence. Funding shortages are affecting the continued provision of water, sanitation and health services at Menik Farm, it states. The bowser fleet capacity had decreased by 50 percent at the end of February. Consequently, the supply standard of 10 litres per person is no longer being achieved. ~ courtesy: The Lakbima News ~

6 Comments

Lack of funds for IDP's but enough funds to waste on Elections and Grandoise projects. O tempora! O mores!

Posted by: Citizen | March 13, 2010 10:35 PM

Lack of funds to maintain IDPs? After all the humans (?) suffering are Tamils, what does it matter to the super (in)human Barbaric Buddhists?

People like "Ooruwansa" are suffering from verbal diarrhea to please the dynasty and badly in need of anal re-hydration! Even they are increasingly neglected. Why bother about Tamil IDPs?

Posted by: Kingsley | March 14, 2010 09:02 AM

If it affects Tamils, discrimination is the mantra:

Approaches to equity in post-Tsunami assistance. Sri Lanka: A case study, Mandeep Kaur Grewal, 2006: ''The Office of the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery commissioned this review on equity issues arising from post-tsunami response, using Sri Lanka as a case study. ...the District Secretary(Trincomalee, Northeast Sri Lanka), was undermined in developing a standard coordination process that other districts were able to implement ...''

This is called internal colonialism. Even International Law has yet to find an answer. Burying external colonialism is much easier than burying internal colonialism. The virulent shield of ''sovereignty'' protects internal colonisers whereas such a shield is not there for external colonisers.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2010 12:31 AM

OCHA not allowed to function properly?

Remember:

Approaches to equity in post-Tsunami assistance. Sri Lanka: A case study, Mandeep Kaur Grewal(DfID), 2006: ''The Office of the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery commissioned this review on equity issues arising from post-tsunami response, using Sri Lanka as a case study. ... the District Secretary(Trincomalee, Northeast Sri Lanka), was undermined in developing a standard coordination process that other districts were able to implement...''

Oppression is the mantra when it comes to making provisions for Tamils.

This is called internal colonialism.

NO ESCAPE from it.

It is much easier to escape from external colonialism - there is no shield of ''sovereignty''.

When the government stops using the dirty, sovereignty, and start using ''responsibility to protect ALL citizens'', Sri Lanka will have true peace.

Posted by: Davidson Panabokke | March 15, 2010 01:20 AM

Does anyone want to bet why Bill Clinton refused to come to Sri Lanka on his 2nd Post-Tsunami visit although he was only a few miles away in the Tamilnadu
Coastal areas?

This week we learn of one of our politically-appointed "diplomats" returning from Tokyo has stolen the Piano, expensive paintings and other valuables that belong to the Japanese owner of the house the Embassy had rented for him. Sri Lanka suffers where the Japanese Govt formally complains about this rogue. A talk is around the man had confessed he bolted with the loot at the request of his political "boss" in Cbo. The political boss - an utterly inefficient waster has ruined Sri Lanka's name in many important places - UN included. What are our Govt politikkas trying to do? Tell the world we are a bunch of crooks? Pray, have some thought for the innocent millions in the country who do not suffer this kleptomania.

ISS

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2010 07:53 PM

To deny victims of war crimes and gross human rights abuses of IDPs held in concentration camps very basic needs is to compound the internal problems further. "Soverignty" lies with the people (not with mindless so-called leaders elected by the majority race) according to its own constitution, one more instance of gross abuse of power. Don't these nut cases even read and understand their own constitutional provisos?

How can any external organisation hand over funds to this government when even Tsunami foreign funds for some 1.2B $ remain unaccounted for years, also given that corruption has gone though the roof? Misuse of public funds and siphoning of funds into private pockets have become serious endemic problems. Besides 'white van syndrome' is well known for ransom collection, seemingly considered normal 'Chintana' activity!

It is past time the UN acts on behalf of suffering minorities in a country where governance has gone terribly awry under tinpot dictators.

Posted by: Scrivan | March 23, 2010 07:01 AM

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