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Statement by the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) on Tsunami Disaster

World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) is a Forum of 34 mass based
organizations representing traditional fisher peoples of the World
particularly in Asia. We are the victims of Tsunami in Asia. Our dear
ones are lost and many are left without homes and fishing implements.
WFFP has four members in SRI LANKA. They are National Fisheries
Solidarity, United Fishermen and Fish workers Union, Womens Development
Federation and National Union of Fishers. The General Secretary of WFFP
is Herman Kumara from SRILANKA. Thomas Kocherry, permanent member to the WFFP Coordination Committee after visiting tsunami affected areas in the
South, West, North and East during the last 4 days in SRI LANKA makes
the following statement.

First my heart goes with our dear ones who lost their lives. My
condolences and deepest sympathies and prayers. May their surviving
ones see a better future. It is almost a month today. I was in Chellanam
Coast in Kerala of India when tsunami occurred. Water came up four
times. Many lost their houses. About 500 died in Kerala, about 12,000
lost their lives in the whole of India. But casualties here are much
greater. A small country like SRI LANKA cannot bear such disaster. About
30,000 lost their lives and 500,000 are victims without houses and
fishing implements. Yes we are still surviving due to the sudden help
from the public, NGOS, SRI LANKAN Government and many other
countries from all over the World. It is a great sign of HUMAN
SOLIDARITY. Let us continue this solidarity till all the victims are
rehabilitated. Wherever I went the victims have been acclaiming the work
done by the WFFP members in SRI LANKA. Congratulations
and thanks to all particularly the leadership given by the WFFP General
Secretary, Herman Kumara.

We read and hear that many countries are outpouring their contributions
to SRI LANKAN Government. But even after a month the debris, shattered
houses are still kept untouched. The victims are in different camps
without any proper cover from rain. No cleaning up has started. We are
reading a lot for rebuilding the nations spending enormous money under
the head of Rural Development (150 m USD), Rail Transport (190 m), Water
supply and Sanitation(150m) Port Development (50m), HRD and social
Services(135m) Housing and Townships(400m), Industrial Development(35m),
Tourism(20m) Private Enterprise Development(50m) and the grand total is
1500 m USD). Out of this, can the government clearly say how much will
go to the hands of the victims? Can the government say how much of this
will go directly for the housing, infra structure development, fishing
development for the victims? Please explain this very clearly.

We want to make it very clear that the SRILANKA Government was in total
bankruptcy before tsunami. After tsunami the Government is very rich at
the expense of tsunami victims and disaster. The SRILANKAN Government
has the moral responsibility before the whole World that the SRILANKAN
GOVERNMENT rise up to the occasion. The World Bank and IMF are trying to
make use of this tragedy for building up Private enterprises, Express
high ways, and Tourism. Yes we agree that the victims have to be
shifted to safer places beyond 200-300m away from the high tide line.
But the empty beaches are meant for the fishing communities to keep
their fishing implements, repairing sheds, fish drying etc. But please
do not bring tourism hotels instead of us. We will not allow this to
happen any where in Asia where the tsunami Disaster took place.

All the victims in Asia will be united to see that the money that
comes to the Governments and NGOS come to the development of the tsunami victims. Every body who receives money should publish the income and expenditure before the victims. This is a must. We will be ever watchful
to see that the rehabilitation takes place immediately. Also we notice
certain exploitations here and there. Police is not giving the Death
Certificates in time. We also notice in certain camps Police have taken
away the ration cards from the campers saying that they will get dry
ration. We suspect that the police are taking away their dry rations. In
many camps there is shortage of water. Proper cleaning and water proof
sheds are required every where. Cleaning up the disaster areas must
begin. New sites must be acquired immediately and housing must be begun
immediately. Repairing of the OBMS, boats and nets are all a must. Where
there is none, new ones must be given. Once people start going for
fishing, new life will start. Infra structure, roads, electricity,
telecommunication in the coastal areas must reintroduced immediately.
All those who are helping the victims must work in a complimentary
manner and should be coordinated. Till the rehabilitation takes place,
the victims of tsunami one way or other should be helped with dry
ration, water, sanitation and water proof sheds. There should be very clear statistics for all these. The contribution meant for the victims should not be taken away by anybody else. Everything should be done in and through the committees of the tsunami victims elected democratically by the people.

p>Thomas Kocherry

(WFFP Permanent invitee to the CC)
Contact numbers:0776305791, 0112-234053, 077789233

On behalf of the Alliance for Protection of National Resources and
Human Rights (ANRHR):

P.Bandara - Coordinator, ANRHR

Herman Kumara - National Fisheries Solidarity

Padma Pushpakanthi - Savistri Women's Network

Sarath Fernando - Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform

Linus Jayatilake - United Federation of Labour