Anglican bishop seeks crisis aid for Sri Lanka war refugees

By staff writers
June 9, 2009

The Anglican Bishop of Kurunagala in Sri Lanka, the Rt Revd Kumara lllangasinghe, has written to Anglican churches throughout the world to appeal for crisis aid for refugee casualties following the bloody end to the war there.

Explaining that the situation in Northern Sri Lanka has reached crisis point, the bishop writes from the the North Western Province of the country:

"I have just returned to the island after the 14th Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston. Jamaica. I have had to return to a very disturbing situation, which we will try to explain below. I am sure that you have already heard about the worsening situation of the innocent casualties of the civilian population, due to the conflict in the North East of the Country.

"The situation in Northern Sri Lanka has reached crisis point. As fighting continued, thousands of civilians were caught in the crossfire trying to escape to safety. Civilian casualties increased daily and hospitals have gone beyond their breaking point. Hospitals on the border and in the refugee camps do not have sufficient staff, medicines, food or beds to treat the daily arrivals. The injured are now being evacuated to hospitals across the country, (Places such as Anuradhapura, Kandy, Gampola. Hingurakgoda, Polonnanruwa and Kurunagala which are in the area that comes under the Diocese of Kurunagala) to try to share the burden and deliver the necessary emergency treatment

"Here in Kurunagala, a large town in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka, we have received over one thousand (1000) evacuated patients and internally displaced people to our hospital in the last few days and are imminently expecting more. Resources here are now stretched beyond capacity. There are severe shortages of medicines, particularly pain relief and antibiotics, a lack of staff, beds and mosquito nets and not enough food or clean drinking water. The evacuees arriving are in need not only of medical care. They have been forced to leave everything behind, are separated from their families and have no clothing, money or belongings,

"A committee has been established of hospital management, clergy and local government officials to try to mobilize immediate emergency support for the situation. Our local clergy and congregations are organizing relief parcels for the evacuees and sending parcels of clothes and food, but this is a poor rural area and resources are limited everywhere. We are appealing, to the international community, and to all our partners to help us provide basic necessities to these displaced and sick people that come, especially within the geographical area of the Diocese of Kurunagala.

"Our most urgent need is for cash to purchase medicines, mosquito nets and clothing for the evacuees. We are able to purchase these locally if we have the necessary resources. We also have an urgent requirement for water mattresses, air mattresses and folding beds. These are not available locally. We estimate an initial requirement of 1,000,000LKR (6000GBP / 9500USD) to purchase immediate emergency supplies. But the situation will continue for some time and for the moment our need has gone up to over SL Rs 5,000,000. We shall be grateful for all foreign cash transfers to be done electronically. The details for cash transfer are provided below. I am sorry that our earlier details had conflicting information and details about the bank account and some of you could not send the funds. We have now corrected this below, Please note that all funds received in cash or kind will be acknowledged directly and officially. We hope to keep all of you regularly updated with latest information regarding this situation."

He concludes: "Every minute that passes another patient is treated without pain relief We beg you, please not to delay your decision to help us,"

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