The Realities Of The Tragedy In Sri Lanka And Responses By Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Specialist Team Somewhat Puzzling!

Periscope-Global Sinhala Village

An apalling contrast between the reality of what is happenning in Sri Lanka as documented by Free Lance Journalist Mahangu Werasinghe on one hand and the tentative response of Canada towards deploying its team of Disaster Response Specialists on the other which seems to constitute unmitigated indifference to Sri Lanka's need in her most desperate hours.

However the emphasis on this indifference seems to rest on the absence of a formal request to Canada directly by the Sri Lankan Government not withstanding the urgent appeal by the President of Sri Lanka's for international help so is this an excuse by Canada to soft peddle on an issue of vital importance to Sri Lanka while awaiting diplomatic protocols to be set in place before deploying a rapid response emergency team to Sri Lanka's aid in her most desperate hour?

The final sentence by the Canadian Officials responsible for DART in the article which follows ends thus and I quote " So these are things that have been under active consideration by us " end quote and what in heaven's name the Canadians say they have been considering seems mind boggling, apathetic and pretty disparaging towards their humanitarian image.Does Canada need another Arnheim for liberation and Not Sri Lanka? though the analogy might seem somewhat distanced from the realities of war and peace. If all the responses of the wonderful international teams who have rushed to Sri Lanka's assistance together with the responses to other disaster stricken areas was as apathetic as Canada's the ramifications of the eventualities would probably be unthinkable.
Wake Up Canada! and Thank You !The Rest of the International Assistance Providers for their unstinting, selfless and immediate compassionate response!

And wake uo Government of Sri Lanka if the decisions being taken by you indicate a lackadaisical neglect towards how some of the big wigs in the Law Enforcement Agencies, prticularly the Police are handling the present crisis with their half hearted responses and have even been accused of misapropriation and pilfering while an impending augmentation of the disaster hangs in the balance!

Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2004 9:43 AM
Subject: Fw: Emergency Situation : the REAL situation.

Subject: Emergency Situation : the REAL situation.

Hello All,
This is just to let everyone know the REAL situation
prevalent in the South. I, along with another journalist and photographer went
down to Matara, Galle and other outlying towns yesterday. I just got
back a few hours ago and am heading back down there at 2pm local time
today (28th Dec).

The Television Media (esp STATE RUN TV) is painting a picture
a pretty picture of aid being sent and everything being alright.
Yesterday, more than 36 hours after the first waves hit the south, there was
still NO aid in EITHER Galle or Matara. That means there was nothing.

In Galle at the Cathedral, there were close to 700 people.
The Father there said that locals had provided aid. No Government stuff
had come at all. How odd. There were infants who did not have formula
milk. Yet the Government had 'mobilized' every unit under the sun. Hmmm..

Now with all the aid being sent from here, my questions is
WHERE is all that stuff going? So just be careful. My advice is not to
send aid through the State. Villagers near Kamburupitiya (inland from
Matara) said that the Police were pilfering stuff. My advice is to
send aid through Churches, Temples or other religious institutions,
where corruption will be a lot less.

Secondly, despite the lovely picture of 'humanity being
helped' that the State is painting, the south (and I believe the east, we have
a correspondent there who said it's worse off in fact) is very
very badly hit. In Matara, there were not enough police officers to transfer
bodies to the graves. There were no officers to record the deaths. The
hospitals were barely functional. It is not fun. And the Government,
for the last 36 hours has done JACK. I'm sorry Mr. Prime Minister, but
your seat is suffering the most. What are you doing? There are (or WERE
last evening) 5000 bodies in the Hambantota town. Not moved. 36 hours after
the wave. What is the Government doing?

What about the UN? The ICRC? With all due respect to both
organizations, their presence was not seen or heard in any of the place we
went to. How long does it take a prominent international aid organization to get down
to a danger area? One and a half days? Two? How long?

So my plea to you is, please, please help. Sri Lanka needs
you. We have never seen destruction like this. Those of you who have
already responded, thanks. To those of you who are still thinking of
helping - please do so. Just get in touch with a religious organization
and send the stuff. Do not trust the state.

If you are going down there, go in groups. People are looting
very badly. Don't travel after dark. If you want to help out here
there are areas where volunteers are wanted very badly - Mattakuliya,
Ratmalana etc. Find out and go. Again, try and work with private / aid
/ religious organizations. Sorry GOSL but you really dropped the ball
this time. Don't trust them.

For those of you who were out clubbing Saturday night, here's
a thought. Those clubs could have been hit first, if the wave came
further up the coast. So please, if you want to party, go ahead. But just
put your Sri Lankaness aside.

It's time to come together. It's time to do something. There
is a lot of TALK going around. Lets see how many of us can do something.

Thanks, and God Bless you all,


Mahangu Weerasinghe,
Freelance Journalist,
Sri Lanka.

+94 0112 328889
+94 0112 331276

+94 0773 018479 (Mobile)

Officials say not yet right to time to send Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team DART team to Asian crisis

Tue Dec 28, 5:01 PM ET

OTTAWA (CP) - Although Canada's military keeps an emergency response team on standby to help in international disasters, it isn't "the right tool" to help victims of a devastating Asian earthquake and tsunami, federal officials said Tuesday.

"It seems the DART is not the right tool at this time," Col. Guy Laroche of the Department of National Defence told a Media briefing three days after the crisis hit. Officials were responding to criticisms that the Canadian Forces Disaster Assistance Response Team hasn't yet been sent to the region devastated by an earthquake that triggered massive tidal waves on Boxing Day.

Officials said they're not ruling out sending the DART team, which sets up a mobile field hospital, at some point.

But information is still coming in from the region and as yet, no government there has made a formal request to Ottawa for such help, officials said.

"We don't want to deploy something if it's not going to be useful," said Elissa Golberg with the Foreign Affairs department.

The DART team was last used five years ago to assist when a massive earthquake hit Turkey.

Its workings are complex, involving a kind of military field hospital that uses about 200 personnel including medics, engineers and security personnel.

Part of its expertise is in water purification, which is desperately needed in the stricken area that includes coastal areas from Sri Lanka to Thailand, India and parts of Indonesia.

But Laroche said that deploying the DART team isn't intended as a short-term response mechanism.

And it would take about 24 flights of a full Hercules aircraft to ferry the 200 DART personnel and all their equipment to the region, added Laroche, Coordinator for International Missions for DND.

Meanwhile, Canadian officials have been reviewing the DART program since fall - well before the current crisis - to find ways of making it more nimble, Golberg said.

"We've been evaluating this, even before the hurricane season in the Americas, to see how we might be able, for instance, to break it up into pieces so we can use it more frequently in the Canadian tool kit," she said.

"So these are things that have already been under active consideration by us."



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