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UMCOR Responds as Humanitarian Crisis in Sri Lanka Deepens

15 August 2006

NEW YORK, Aug, 15, 2006-The humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka grows each day that the conflict between the Sri Lankan Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam continues. The United Methodist Committee on Relief in partnership with the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka along with Muslim Aid, a British agency, were the only organizations able to provide assistance in the early days of this crisis. Since the fighting broke out two weeks ago in north eastern Sri Lanka nearly 50,000 people have fled the towns of Muttur and Toppo to seek safety in government-held Kantale, about 37 miles away. Kantale's infrastructure simply cannot cope with the large influx of people seeking refuge in any available space. Drinking water is scarce and sanitary conditions are abysmal. The local hospital is also overwhelmed with people wounded in the fighting and those who fell ill overcrowded conditions.

UMCOR's aid station serves people as they enter Kantale. Thus far the station and UMCOR workers have treated thousands of wounded and sick people, distributed 6,000 hygiene kits, provided thousands of gallons of drinking water, sets of clothing, and are supporting 20 refugee camps with approximately 50,000 people.

Guy Hovey, UMCOR Sri Lanka's Head of Mission, and other staff members have been meeting with local aid organizations as well as government officials to coordinate relief efforts and to guarantee the safe passage of civilians fleeing the fighting.

UMCOR established an office in Sri Lanka in 2005 as a response to the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami with field offices in Batticaloa and Trincomalee. Activities include emergency relief, housing construction, infrastructure rehabilitation, and livelihood assistance.

How You Can Help

Cash gifts support UMCOR's relief efforts in Sri Lanka. Checks can be mailed to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Write "UMCOR Advance #982450, International Disaster Response - Sri Lanka" on the memo line of your check. One hundred percent of your gift will contribute to relief in Sri Lanka