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EU throws lifeline to fishers affected by ship disasters

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In response to serious oil and hazardous chemical spills triggered by the fire that broke out on a ship carrying hazardous substances in May, the European Union is directing 200,000 Euros (over 48 million Sri Lankan rupees) in humanitarian funding to provide crucial assistance. The aid will benefit 15,000 people who have been heavily affected by the disaster in the districts of Colombo, Galle, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam and Matara, the EU said in a statement yesterday.

This EU funding supports the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society in delivering emergency relief assistance to those most affected, especially, small-scale fishing communities, through the delivery of cash assistance. This will help meet the immediate needs of those whose day-to-day livelihoods have been impacted by the fishing ban implemented following the incident.  The aid will also focus on supporting local authorities to clean hazardous and toxic materials along the country’s west coast. Necessary training and materials, such as personal protective equipment, goggles and boots, will also be provided to volunteers involved in the cleaning activities. Special attention will be paid to the most vulnerable groups, including female-headed families, people with disabilities and the elderly.

The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Sri Lanka is witnessing what is considered one of the worst marine environmental disasters after the X-Press Pearl cargo vessel carrying a large number of toxic chemicals and plastic granules caught fire off the coast of Colombo on 20 May. The fire that continued for 12 days resulted in a massive spillage of damaged containers, microplastics, plastic pellets, chemicals and other harmful substances into the sea.  Following the incident, small-scale fishing has been banned on a 50-kilometre stretch of coastline in Colombo and Gampaha. In addition to the severe damage to the marine and coastal ecosystems, the incident has also affected over 16,000 fishing communities in six coastal districts who are dependent on fishing for a living. The Sri Lankan fishing sector has already been largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and monsoon weather conditions.

The European Union together with its Member States is the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.

Through its European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the European Union helps over 120 million victims of conflicts and disasters every year. For more information, please visit ECHO’s website.

The European Commission has signed a Euro 3 million humanitarian contribution agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.

The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF. For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The contribution agreement between the IFRC and ECHO enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of three million Euros.



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused

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By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.

 

 

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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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