Mid-Year Review of the Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) for Sri Lanka 2007
CHANGES IN CONTEXT AND HUMANITARIAN CONSEQUENCES
Violence and fighting continued in the first five months of 2007, with severe humanitarian consequences for populations in the north and east. Between December 2006, when the Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) was drafted, and May 2007, fatalities increased from 3,671 to 4,799. Similarly, displacements have risen from 212,759 people in December 2006 to 234,500 in June 2007. The sharp reduction noted in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Batticaloa in May-June is due mainly to the on-going phased return process. Despite the fighting, the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) has not been formally denounced. The Government has made public statements expressing adherence in principle to the resumption of talks, and the All-Party Representatives Committee (APRC) continued deliberations on proposals for a political settlement.
Military activities including ground, air and naval operations continued mainly to clear the eastern province. The Government has stated that it intends to complete the process of resettlement in the east and will aim further to limit the military capacity of the non-state actor. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have threatened reprisals in the event of an army offensive in the north. Terrorist attacks in urban areas have taken place, and four air raids by the LTTE introduced a new element in the confrontation. Insecurity for civilians in the north and east had been amplified by the activities of LTTE splinter groups in Government-controlled areas.
The main land supply route to the north (A-9) remained closed, impeding the delivery of aid, and the Government is supplying the Jaffna peninsula by air and sea, building a buffer stock of essential supplies. Nevertheless, Jaffna remains isolated with the resident population in continuing need of subsistence assistance. A Government-facilitated return process in Batticaloa and Trincomalee has been under way since April-May 2007 and is monitored by national and international actors.
The humanitarian consequences continue to be serious. Civilians are exposed to the risks of death, injury, loss of shelter, loss of livelihoods, inability to access basic services, and the breakdown of essential community and family structures. Human rights concerns persisted in the form of screening, intimidation, abductions, and disappearances, and forced recruitment of children has continued. As of the end of May 2007, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has recorded 6,461 children abducted (6,154 by the LTTE and 307 by the Karuna group) with 1,789 children still being held (1,591 by the LTTE and 198 by Karuna). The LTTE has also stepped up the compulsory training and mobilisation of civilians to create a ‘people’s force’ in the Wanni, blurring the line between civilians and combatants, and so putting large numbers of people in harm’s way.
An overview of the affected populations now includes: the new IDP caseload standing at 234,500 in June 2007; about 80,000 people of the resident population of Jaffna who are economically affected; 200,000 to 300,000 residual IDPs from the tsunami and previous fighting; and around 63,000 returnees who had made their way back to their homes in the east in May-June 2007. These numbers are subject to fluctuations and are being discussed with the Government.
Access restrictions, security concerns, as well as limitations in the supplies of fuel and humanitarian goods in the north remained major challenges in the implementation of CHAP projects. Changes in the situation in the field allowed for improved access in some affected areas such as Vakarai, but administrative restrictions and media campaigns undermining the credibility of aid organisations persist. The killing of two aid workers in May posed a fresh challenge. Transparent and consistently implemented rules are being discussed in the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (CCHA). Such rules are strongly needed and required by the aid community itself.
As suggested at the time of the CHAP launch, and based on the changes in the humanitarian context and evolving situation, the Mid-Year Review introduces revisions and adjustments in on-going projects as well as new projects, which bring the total revised funding requirements at US$ 109.6 million. As of 21 June $54 million has been received torwards the total CHAP funding requirements, leaving the outstanding funding requirements until the end of 2007 at $55.7 million. Additional funding will allow the humanitarian community to continue to complement the efforts of the Government, which takes the lead role in providing humanitarian assistance. It is necessary for that purpose that Government Ministries and agencies share their plans for relief and recovery of the affected areas. The CCHA and the newly established sub-committees, as well as the Government Agents in the districts, should continue to play the leading coordinating role in this regard.
These figures were reported in the Media Centre for National Security – Ministry of Defense, 31 May 2007, and mainly concern combatants.
Data released by Government Agents compiled by agencies.
While all were abducted as children, many are now over 18 years old.
Food and nutrition survey conducted by UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Jaffna, November 2006.
The Government of Sri Lanka has pointed out that humanitarian space is not shrinking but rather improving especially with the improved security situation in the East. 21 international NGOs had been given clearance by the Defence Ministry to work in the uncleared areas of the North and East.