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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 104

USAID Official: ‘Good to See Humanitarian Community Coming Together’ for Displaced

Colombo, 07 April, (Asiantribune.com): Michael Hess, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance - a top official of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) expressed satisfaction over the international humanitarian community coming together to provide services to ensure the provision of food, water, sanitation, and health care to the Internally Displaced people in the East.

Hess came to Sri Lanka to assess whether the international community, together with the Government of Sri Lanka, has the capability to provide the necessary assistance to meet the basic needs of the displaced populations.

He said that he was encouraged that the international humanitarian community was delivering a coordinated response to the basic needs of displaced populations in Eastern Sri Lanka and pledged USAID would do its part in contributing to the effort following a recent visit to Sri Lanka.

Hess further added that USAID alone has already provided more than $4 million to displaced population relief in Sri Lanka, and pledged that additional contributions to the humanitarian effort would be forthcoming in the near future.

“From a donor perspective, we don’t try to do it all,” he said. “We try to provide somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of the need – with the host government making up the balance. We’re going to try to do our share, and make sure that the international donor community is providing a coordinated response so there aren’t any gaps in assistance.”

Given below is the full text of the statement released by the US Embassy in Colombo:

Kiliveddy: Michael Hess, a top official with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said that he was encouraged that the international humanitarian community was delivering a coordinated response to the basic needs of displaced populations in Eastern Sri Lanka and pledged USAID would do its part in contributing to the effort following a recent visit to Sri Lanka
The centerpiece of the visit was the Kilavedi transit camp, where he met with camp residents as well as civilian and military officials managing the displaced populations.

Mr. Hess, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, said he came to Sri Lanka to assess whether the international community, together with the Government of Sri Lanka, has the capability to provide the necessary assistance to meet the basic needs of the displaced populations.

“It was good to see that the international humanitarian community is coming together to provide services to ensure the provision of food, water, sanitation, and health care,” said Hess, who has served in humanitarian operations in Balkans and has visited displaced populations in Somalia and Darfur, Sudan. “There’s a nutritional aspect as well. When you’ve got a population that’s already stressed on the edge of a malnutrition crisis, (they) can be easily pushed over the edge.”

Hess said USAID alone has already provided more than $4 million to displaced population relief in Sri Lanka, and pledged that additional contributions to the humanitarian effort would be forthcoming in the near future.

“From a donor perspective, we don’t try to do it all,” he said. “We try to provide somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of the need – with the host government making up the balance. We’re going to try to do our share, and make sure that the international donor community is providing a coordinated response so there aren’t any gaps in assistance.”

Hess encouraged the Government to work closely with the international community, the international NGOs and local NGOs, as well as ICRC and UN organizations observing, “If they work together as a team, they can manage this IDP problem.”

Hess said he was especially concerned about the nutritional aspect of the displaced, noting that according to the UN, the global acute malnutrition rate among the population is about 14 percent, dangerously close to the accepted “emergency level” of 15 percent.

“But there many aspects of their diet and nutrition we need to look at -- it’s not just quantity of food. Our Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is working with UNICEF and the International Medical Corps to see what are the real causes of this malnutrition.”

Hess said he also wanted to observe progress on the $134 million U.S. commitment to tsunami relief and reconstruction in Sri Lanka, and the affect those interventions may have had on national reconciliation.

“Since the tsunami we have been doing a lot of work at the community level,” he said. “I wanted to see what affect the tsunami had on society, and whether we can take lessons learned about working at the community level to help build bonds across ethnic divides to break down those barriers to communication.”

USAID Assistant Administrator Mike Hess (second right) speaks to a displaced family in the transit camp at Kilavedi. ( Photo:  USAID/Ivan Rasiah)USAID Assistant Administrator Mike Hess (second right) speaks to a displaced family in the transit camp at Kilavedi. ( Photo: USAID/Ivan Rasiah)

- Asian Tribune –

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