Common Humanitarian Action Plan for Sri Lanka 2009
Following advances of the Sri Lankan Army into Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts during the second half of 2008, heavy fighting continued in January 2009. During the first weeks of the new year, Government forces took control over key areas formerly held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), including Kilinochchi, the former LTTE administrative hub, Elephant Pass, the strategic link to the Jaffna peninsula, and Mullaitivu, situated on the Eastern coast. By mid-January, the population remaining in the Vanni had been forced into a dwindling space in the area north of Puthukkudiyiruppu. Although the majority are now in a ‘Safe Area’ declared by the Government, safety and security risks remain high as heavy fighting continues.
In addition to physical safety concerns, fighting has seriously affected the supply of critical food aid and medical supplies and has exacerbated the previously worrying shelter, water and sanitation situation. Since the September 2008 relocation of United Nations and international non-governmental organisation staff from Kilinochchi to Vavuniya, international humanitarian assistance has been provided through UN convoys which complement the food and other essential provisions supplied by Government and delivered through the Government Agents structure. From October 2008 to January 2009, nearly 8,400 metric tonnes of food, along with limited quantities of non-food relief items (NFRI), were provided for an estimated 230,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts. In addition to the food it supplies, the Government continues to provide health materials, whilst also providing shelter materials at the time of the monsoon.
As the conflict intensified, more people have managed to flee the Vanni region, with nearly 4,400 people arriving into Government-controlled areas from the end of November 2008 to 1 February 2009. These (IDPs) are mainly being accommodated in Vavuniya and Jaffna, with a small number also in Mannar, joining over 800 others who arrived mainly during the first half of 2008. Large-scale movement of people from the Vanni is expected to dramatically increase, with contingency planning for up to 200,000 people under development by Government and humanitarian partners.
The conflict in the North now appears to be nearing a decisive juncture, with the Government confident that full victory over the LTTE is imminent. While recent developments will impact the priorities outlined in this Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP), the main assumption that the populations in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts will have large-scale needs holds true. Planning for the CHAP has already considered the possibility of large-scale movement from the Vanni into Vavuniya, which will now be given more prominence during the weeks and months ahead.
While the short-term humanitarian priority will be continued assistance to the civilian population trapped close to the battle zone, additional provision for reception and care of the population in Vavuniya, Jaffna and Mannar will also require substantial resources. In addition, continued support to Government's effort to restore normality for still vulnerable displaced and recently-returned families in the East remains important, with the need to continue to support the significant progress made on return and stabilisation in the Eastern districts of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara since the end of hostilities there in 2007.
Based on the agreed priorities, which include humanitarian relief, protection, and early recovery, the CHAP outlines areas of assistance for affected populations in need. They include assistance for displaced and return communities in the areas of food aid, nutrition, health, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection, education, agriculture and fisheries, economic recovery and infrastructure, and logistics. CHAP projects aim to complement government capacity and ongoing efforts to assist conflict-affected populations. Similarly, activities for recovery efforts will support the Government's overall lead.
CHAP priorities have been agreed with Government after consultation through sector leads and their partners and with donors and other stakeholders. Two workshops, one at central and one at district level, were held to facilitate wide consultation and inform inputs. The document calls for a preparedness level for up to 433,000 conflict-affected individuals comprising 313,000 IDPs, 20,000 returnees and 100,000 affected communities, though actual numbers may be lower when the situation in the Vanni is clarified. This includes support for particularly vulnerable groups in Jaffna and returnees in the East.
The funding requirement for 103 projects proposed by 42 organisations, which includes 28 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), 12 UN agencies, and the International Organization for Migration (