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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