tsunami affected area

News bulletin 1

tsunami affected areaVia Campesina Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction Fund WEEKLY NEWS BULLETIN No. 1, January 4, 2005

Via Campesina – the global alliance of peasant, family farmer, farm worker, indigenous, landless peoples and women’s organizations, and other rural movements – calls for solidarity with the millions of people affected by the tsunami disaster and is launching a global fundraising campaign to channel assistance to affected communities of fisherfolk and peasants, for our own relief and reconstruction efforts,through our grassroots member organizations (http://www.viacampesina.org )and our sister organizations of fisherfolk.

The Via Campesina Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction Fund is collecting funds for direct emergency support to our own communities to provide basic needs of food, clean drinking water, shelter and health care to our fisherfolk and peasant communities affected by the tsunamis, as well as to help initiate the long term work of reconstructing our communities and rebuilding our livelihoods.
DETAILS ON FUNDS COLLECTED AND HOW THEY ARE DISTRIBUTED CAN BE FOUND BELOW.
To make a secure, on-line donation using your credit card:click here
For instructions on other ways to give:click here
PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY
Campaign contact: Nico Verhagen, Via Campesina, nico.verhagen@t-online.de
________________________________________
CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE
PART I: Reports from Via Campesina member and friend organizations
1. Jan 3: Peasant Organizations Donate Food while Government Bureaucracy Stalls: Update on Indonesia 2. Sri Lanka: National Federation of Fishworkers (NAFSO) Organizes Reconstruction and Relief 3. Jan 3: National Fish Workers Forum (NFF) in India Protests Government Inaction; Civil Society in Tamilnadu Provides Fishing Villages with Shelter 4. Jan 3: Via Campesina Peasant Members in Malaysia Initiate Local Fundraising Efforts 5. Thailand: Federation of Southern Fisherfolk Communities Hit Hard

PART II: From the News

1. INDIA: Indigenous People Survive Tsunamis Using Ancient Methods 2. Jubilee South: In the face of Debt and Disaster, Long-lasting Relief for the Peoples of the South!
PART III. About this Campaign
1. How We Distribute Funds 2. What We Have Raised So Far
________________________________________
PART I: Reports from Via Campesina member and friend organizations
1. Jan 3: Peasant Organizations Donate Food while Government Bureaucracy Stalls: Update on Indonesia
SITUATION ON THE GROUND: Today is the 9th day after the quake and tsunami hit Aceh and North Sumatra. There are still thousands of bodies in the Banda Aceh, Meulaboh, Aceh Besar and Pidie regencies. They have not yet been removed for burial due to the difficult circumstances, as the bodies were lying under fallen trees and other rubble. Most of the towns and villages in western part of Aceh province were destroyed by the tsunami. In the next few days, there will be a lot of work by volunteers and government personnel to remove the bodies for burial, as further delays could provoke disease epidemics. As of today at 11:30 AM, the number of people confirmed as dead in Aceh Province are 94,041, with most of them in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh. In Aceh, 5,895 people are still missing. In North Sumatra, 293 people died, mostly in Sirombu Island in Nias District (174 people), with 3 people still missing. Tonight the Health Ministry officially announced that the number of people living in refugee camps in the tsunami-ravaged Indonesian province of Aceh has reached 271,908. But we think there are still thousands people not yet identified, because many survivors are now living in the forest or have found temporary shelter elsewhere.

OUR OWN RELIEF EFFORTS: On the one hand, a lot of donated instant noodles, biscuits, medicine, clothes, milk, etc., is arriving at the airports, but they still have not been distributed because of the lack of coordination in the government bureaucracy.. On the other hand, fresh food is coming from the farmers who are members of the Via Campesina-member (Indonesian National Peasant federation (FSPI) in North Sumatra province, and from other local farmer groups. We think this is the best kind of food for refugees and other people who are still alive in Aceh and North Sumatra. Tomorrow we will start sending in food like bananas, cassava, fruits, rice, chile, potatoes, and fresh vegetables, plus cooking tools, and will continue to send clothes, infant formula, drinking water and burial tools, via our civil society coordination center in Banda Aceh and Langsa. About a thousand volunteers have been going to Aceh province and North Sumatra from a lot of civil society groups, political parties, and peoples’ organizations. The Team of Humanitarian Solidarity in the Tsunami Disaster in Aceh & North Sumatra Provinces, Indonesia (KSKBA), including FSPI, has sent 265 volunteers as of today to Banda Aceh, Langsa, Lhokseumawe, Meulaboh and Nias Island.
[Contact: Indra Lubis, FSPI, ilubis@cbn.net.id]

2. Jan 3: Sri Lanka: National Federation of Fishworkers (NAFSO) Organizes Reconstruction and Relief
SITUATION ON THE GROUND: We just came back from Kalutara, Matara and Galle, among the areas in Sri Lanka that were worst hit by the tsunamis. Unimaginable damage has been done to the lives, coast, property, environment and livelihoods of the people. A lot of relief agencies, media institutions, volunteer organizations, corporations, banks, trade unions, and NGOs, together the with government agencies, are involved in the relief work. But the main problem at the moment is that the relief assistance is not systematically reaching the genuine victims. Rather, the aid is too often grabbed by non victims and people who do were directly affected by the tragedy, while the real victims are starving.

OUR OWN RELIEF EFFORTS: We have identified the main areas of work on immediate, medium and long term bases. The non-victims in the area are being organized to assist the victims in clearing rubble, cleaning out wells, repairing boats, building shelters, etc. A number of local youth and farmer groups have committed to assist the affected people. NAFSO and other partners who are from inland fishing areas volunteered to send 4 teams [10-15 in each team] to assist people at Galle, Matara and Kalutara, as a beginning. At the moment the Southern Fisheries Organization (SFO) has 40 people working in Galle and 50 youth groups working in Matara. We need to get the fishers back to their regular livelihoods as quickly as possible, so we are prioritizing support for repairing their damaged boats, and boat building to replace lost ones. We have identified the local people who have experience in boat building. For resettlement we need building materials, so we will start preparing hollow cement blocks right away. Specific needs of women were identified, and women were appointed to organize attention to those matters in most of the refugee camps women. We also identified counselling as one of the highest needs in the camps, and will offer such services. Our volunteer teams will meet every other day to evaluate and plan the work.
[Contact: Herman Kumara, NAFSO, fishmove@slt.lk]

3. Jan 3: National Fish Workers Forum (NFF) in India Protests Government Inaction; Civil Society in Tamilnadu Provides Fishing Villages with Shelter
Mr. Thomas Kocherry of the NFF has filed a protest with the Minister of the Environment, because of their failure to have implemented a notification ordered by the Supreme Court to halt mangrove destruction by the private sector, to finance to moving of peoples’ home further inland, and to have taken other safety measures. This government negligence led to as many 12,000 deaths, according to the NFF. Mangroves form a natural barrier that protects coastal areas from tsunamis, but they have been subject to massive removal by the business sector for the "factory farming" of shrimp via industrial aquaculture, which has also seriously cut into the livelihoods of artisanal fisherfolk.
Representatives from 14 affected fishing villages in in Tamilnadu met at the KSS office in Nagercoil and accepted a proposal of temporary shelters near their villages. There was joy and hope in the faces of fishermen and fisher women. They have agreed to give us the land as well. The details are being worked out by the leaders of KSS, NFF, MUHIL and the Manavalakurichy Redemptorist Community. Community kitchens and toilets are part of this. MUHIL has already mobilized ten million rupees. We need ten million more. We have decided to start constructing the shelters from Monday onwards. Eventually the fishermen will start fishing again with the equipment that we hope will be donated. Please hurry up and contribute towards this as a fitting new year gift. We assure you that whatever you give, it will reach the affected people. Please do not delay.
[Contact: Thomas Kocherry, NFF, thomas.kocherry@gmail.com]

4. Jan 3: Via Campesina Peasant Members in Malaysia Initiate Local Fundraising Efforts
PANGGAU, a member of Via campesina in Malaysia, reports that all of their members are ok, as they are not in the affected regions of Penang, Kedah, and Perlis. Awang Ahmad of PANGGAU, reports that: "In my village most of the Muslim groups a now setting up a committee for fundraising for relief, which will be the first committee set up in the village, and I am the one who are in the committee."
[Contact: Awang Ahmad, PANGGAU, panggau99@yahoo.com]

5. Thailand: Federation of Southern Fisherfolk Communities Hit Hard
The Tsunami has destroyed many villages and tourist areas in Thailand. The Federation of Southern Fisherfolk, a member of the WFFP (World Forum of Fisherfolk People) and also a member ofAssembly of the Poor, which in turn is a member of Via Campesina, has been terribly affected. Some villages have been erased and all the villagers are dead, and some key leaders of the Federation were also killed. The Assembly of the Poor is in the process of fact finding and helping with emergency needs in support of affected people.
[Contact: Pontip Samranjit, Assembly of the Poor, pongtip@rrafa.org, rrafa@loxinfo.co.th]

PART II: From the News
1. INDIA: Indigenous People Survive Tsunamis Using Ancient Methods
Jan 3 (translated & edited form EFE news wire): Thanks to ancient systems for detecting changes in nature, six indigenous tribes that live on the islands of Andaman and Nicobar, in the Golf of Bengal, have survived the the tsunamis that devastated Southeast Asia. They knew that a natural disaster was going to occur in the area, according to V.R. Rao, director of Anthropological Inspection of Indian government. "The tribals perceived imminent danger through the observation of biological indicators like changes in bird songs and in the behavior patterns of marine life," said Rao. He added that the people moved deep into the forests in the interior of the islands where they found safe places, and that is why there are no tsunami victims among the Jarwas, Onges, Shompens, Sentenals y Greater Andamans. These tribes date back to the Paleolithic and Mesolithic — their cultures can be traced back to some 20,000 to 60,000 years ago. The Nicobar tribe, on the other hand, which dates back only to the Neolithic (some 5,000 to 7,000 years ago), and lives on 12 of the islands in the Indian archipelago, did lose some of their members.

2. Jubilee South: In the face of Debt and Disaster, Long-lasting Relief for the Peoples of the South!
Dec 28: Jubilee South has issued a sign-on statement calling for unconditional debt cancellation in the face of the tsunami disaster. The statement reads, in part, "If there is any measure of sincerity in the outpouring of compassion from North governments for the peoples of the South, let this be through concrete action — in addition to emergency relief operations and rehabilitation, what we need immediately is: UNCONDITIONAL DEBT CANCELLATION NOW! Southern governments should not continue to prioritize debt service, and squander much needed public funds." [Details: http://www.jubileesouth.org/news/EEpukkAkApgFIndYNK.shtml ]

PART III. About this Campaign
1. How We Distribute Funds As Via Campesina (http://www.viacampesina.org) we have a number of member organizations in the region that are active in relief work and will be part of the reconstruction process. These include, for example, the Indonesian National Peasant Federation (FSPI), MONLAR in Sri Lanka, the Assembly of the Poor in Thailand, and others. We are also working closely with two fisherfolk organizations that are members of the World Forum of Fisherfolk People (WFFP), with whom we have been collaborating for several years in different spaces at the international level. These are NAFSO in Sri Lanka and NFF in India. At the moment, as we are in an emergency situation we are distributing the funds that come in equally among 4 countries. At the moment the first transfers have been made, in India to the NFF, in Thailand to the Assembly of the Poor (one of their members is the Federation of Southern Fisherfolk), in Sri Lanka to NAFSO, and in Indonesia to FSPI. This may change over time as we move from emergency relief to reconstruction, and if we add more countries (i.e. Malaysia, Burma, etc….) and organizations.

2. What We Have Raised So Far
The fundraising campaign began on 12/30, and as of 1/03 we had received more than USD $11,000 in 115 credit card donations coming from the United States, France, Norway, Thailand, Belgium, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Great Britain. The smallest credit card gift was USD $5, and the largest was $1,000, while the average donation was USD $96. In addition we have received a number of checks in the mail and wire transfers. We URGENTLY need to boost these amounts, so please give generously and circulate this information widely.
To make a secure, on-line donation using your credit card:click here
For instructions on other ways to give (checks, money orders, wire transfers):click here
For more information, refer to: http://www.viacampesina.org Campaign contact: Nico Verhagen, Via Campesina, nico.verhagen@t-online.de
PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY

This article is available in