UMCOR / News Room / News & Features / Archives 2006 / 20060803

UMCOR is One of a "Handful" of Organizations Responding to Violence in Northeastern Sri Lanka

NEW YORK, Aug. 3, 2006-The slow simmer of war has come to a full boil in Northeastern Sri Lanka this week.  Fighting between the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has dramatically increased in Trincomalee District of northeastern Sri Lanka, an area where the United Methodist Committee on Relief has been working towards tsunami recovery. 

Fighting has displaced communities where UMCOR is working and has caused the organization to halt its reconstruction activities in order to provide relief to families displaced by the violence.  Currently, UMCOR is among a handful of humanitarian aid organizations that are providing emergency assistance in the conflicted area.  UMCOR is working closely with the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka (MCSL) to bring aid to displaced people.  About 300 people seeking shelter in a local mosque and Methodist Church are receiving food and other support from UMCOR and MCSL staff in the Trincomalee area.

"As a humanitarian aid organization we have a special responsibility to ensure that the basic needs of people are met in times of conflict and natural disaster," stated Guy Hovey, UMCOR Sri Lanka's Head of Mission.  "We will continue to coordinate with other aid agencies, religious institutions, and authorities to collaboratively assist displaced families in Trincomalee." 

UMCOR Work Directly Affected

On the other side of a mile-wide bay from Trincomalee is the town of Muttur, where UMCOR has been rebuilding homes and critical infrastructure, such as roads, water supply, and sanitation systems.  Muttur is now the center of much of the armed conflict as the LTTE and SLA fight for control of the town.  From the UMCOR office in Trincomalee, Mr. Hovey can hear the shelling in Muttur and wonders how much of UMCOR's reconstruction work is left there.  The Methodist Church in Muttur, with UMCOR's support, has been housing about 150 families displaced by the increasing violence over the past 10 weeks. Currently, UMCOR personnel cannot safely enter Muttur to bring supplies and Methodist church staff members in Muttur are caught in the cross-fire. 

"Even as the world spotlight shines on the violence in the Middle East, conflicts such as the one in Sri Lanka continue to rage unnoticed," said Paul Dirdak, UMCOR director.  "UMCOR's commitment to alleviate suffering often brings us to the doorstep of such conflicts.  We use our experience to bring relief, build peace, and foster solid communities even in places where the world is no longer looking."

How You Can Help

Please pray for a peaceful resolution to this conflict and for the safety of UMCOR workers there.  Cash gifts support UMCOR's relief efforts in Sri Lanka.

Give to UMCOR Advance International Disaster Response - Sri Lanka #982450. Please write the Advance # and name and in the memo line of your check.

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