Monthly Archive for May, 2008

NGO’s & UN abusing Children

A UN truck

UN peacekeepers stand accused of abusing those they are sent to protect

Children as young as six are being sexually abused by peacekeepers and aid workers, says a leading UK charity.

Children in post-conflict areas are being abused by the very people drafted into such zones to help look after them, says Save the Children.

After research in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti, the charity said an international watchdog should be created to deal with the issue.

The UN has said it welcomes the report, which it will study closely.

Save the Children said the most shocking aspect of child sex abuse is that most of it goes unreported and unpunished, with children too scared to speak out.

No support

A 13-year-old girl described to the BBC how 10 UN peacekeepers gang-raped her in a field near her Ivory Coast home, and left her bleeding, trembling and vomiting on the ground.

The victims are suffering sexual exploitation and abuse in silence
Heather Kerr
Save the Children

No action has been taken against the soldiers.

The report also found that aid workers have been sexually abusing boys and girls.

After research involving hundreds of children from Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti, the charity said better reporting mechanisms needed to be introduced to deal with what it called “endemic failures” in responding to reported cases of abuse.

It also said efforts should be made to strengthen worldwide child protection systems.

Heather Kerr, Save the Children’s Ivory Coast country director, says little is being done to support the victims.

“It’s a minority of people but they are using their power to sexually exploit children and children that don’t have the voice to report about this.

“They are suffering sexual exploitation and abuse in silence.”

Save the Children says the international community has promised a policy of zero-tolerance to child sexual abuse, but that this is not being followed up by action on the ground.

A UN spokesman, Nick Birnback, said that it was impossible to ensure “zero incidents” within an organisation that has up to 200,000 personnel serving around the world.

“What we can do is get across a message of zero tolerance, which for us means zero complacency when credible allegations are raised and zero impunity when we find that there has been malfeasance that’s occurred,” he told the BBC.

source:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7420798.stm

Arugam Bay: The Point

Point Surf At Arugam Bay

The point of me being here is the point, Arugam Point. Twice a day I make the fifteen minute walk from my hut, up the south end of the bay to the coral prominentary jutting into the Indian Ocean which causes swells from the south to form into waves as they hit the shallow reef and then refract around the point into the bay giving long surfable waves which peel from left to right.

The evening I arrived I threw my bags into The Nest and made straight for the point to get half an hours water time before dark. The set waves were 8-9ft on the face and barreled in one section. I paddled out in the lull between sets but my timidness amongst a pack of seasoned locals and travellers ensured I didn’t snag one of the big fellas, but I snuck onto a couple of smaller waves on the inside. Since then the size has dropped to not much beyond head-high but I’ve surfed the best waves of my life. I’m really getting to know the wave, and surfing with the wave like never before. I’m paddling into position, making the drop and immediately taking a high line along the wave to gain speed in order to make it round the fast breaking section 20 metres down the line, after which the wave slows so a cut back gets you back into the curl of the wave to begin generating speed down the line to make the next section. You can connect these sections up from the point down into the bay, probably one hundred metres or more, but as the season progresses and more sand is pushed over the reef these sections connect up to give rides of nearly eight hundred metres! I’ve by no means got this wave dialed and continue to get tumbled over the reef as waves close out on me or I completely misjudge a turn but the simple joy when it all comes together, as all thought disappears and you exist purely in the that moment with that wave is pretty special…. then Crunch! You snap a fin plug out of your board and begin a satisfied trudge back to the A-Bay board repair shack.

There’s a laid-back and friendly atmosphere in the water with the same faces – Aussie, American, Sri Lankan, English, Japanese, South African, French, Finnish, Spanish and Israeli – appearing day in day out. I would guess there are about twenty five surfers in town but there’s usually no more than 10 out at any one time and apart from some sour faced israelis there are smiles, waves, chats and the waves are shared by all.

Ed Templeton

source:
http://ed-templeton.blogspot.com/2008/05/point.html

The Nest at Arugambay

Surf at Arugam BaySooriya's Tree house

I’m living in a wooden shack on stilts, like a tree house, called The Nest at the bottom of Ram Sooriya’s garden. I have a veranda on two sides with a hammock and a chair and table. Inside I have an electric light and a Tilley lamp as a bedside reading light, I have a bed with a mosquito net and a large lockable wooden box for keeping my things away from prying monkey hands, some large spiders, a huge centipede, some geckos, a few cockroaches and a bat. About 20 metres away is a well with an electric pump which draws water up through a stand-pipe and acts as my shower, and the banana tree leaves surrounding it are my soap tray. The nearest toilet is a couple of hundred metres walk towards the main building so I’ve been taking a leak in the surrounding flora and fauna. In fact in the spirit of going feral I’ve felt compelled to mark my territory with strategic urinary deployments about the perimeter. Such bestial instincts weren’t effective enough to save me from the devastation that greeted my return from breakfast this morning. Having changed into dry shorts after an early surf I left The Nest to see an upside down monkey face peering at me from under the apex of the roof. “Good morning” I waved as I headed for eggs and fruit salad thinking nothing more of it. That cheeky money had obviously been casing the joint whilst waiting for my departure before whistling his firm in to do the place over. As I walked back towards home I saw the porch light was on and swinging slightly, as I neared I saw my erstwhile drying boardshorts strewn on the sandy floor beneath the hut, approaching further I spied some of my toiletries and other nick-nacks dotted around the area. As comprehension dawned on me I opened my door to the full carnage within. Anything and everything that was accessible had been ransacked. There was kerosene from the lamp mixed with citronella all over the floor and walls, forming a nice paste where it had merged with my soap powder. The bed was covered with incriminating muddy paw prints, the mosquito net torn down, my pillow nowhere to be seen. Luckily my muji wash bag was sturdy enough to save most of it’s contents but my coconut after-sun tube was riddled with tiny teeth punctures, it’s contents sprayed across the walls looking like the scene of a coconut massacre. Bizarrely my photocopied yoga sheet had been removed from it’s plastic wallet and sat neatly in the middle of the floor… But the icing on the cake was a monkey poo-present at the foot of my bed…

Luckily I heeded Ram’s advice and stowed anything of value in my wooden chest so the damage was peripheral, but caution is the operative word until I can figure out how to keep the buggers out.
Monkeys -1, Ed -0.

Ed Templeton

source:
http://ed-templeton.blogspot.com/2008/05/nest.html

Arugambay: Band of brothers

Surf at Arugam BaySwell at Arugam BayArugam Bay Sunset

I like the company of men as much as the next man, but it dawned on me after a few weeks that I do miss the softness, beauty, wisdom, care and openness of female company…

Why don’t women surf? Well, of course they do, but not in the numbers that men do, and there certainly aren’t many here… in fact there’s only 1 Japanese woman who is surfing here, and the only other females I’ve met are Mel, Rosie and Flora who were all here with surfing boyfriends. In fact the same was true of Bali when I was there unless you were in Kuta with it’s ‘resort’ facilities – beaches, bars, restaurants, shops etc. – the female count was disturbingly low. I know women are different, but why isn’t there a comparable urge to surf between the sexes? So here’s the theory I’ve come up with: Women are more naturally connected to their Self and are less driven by their ego therefore they don’t have the physical urge that men do to find complex ways of suppressing the ego to glimpse that true inner self by surfing or engaging in other ‘danger sports’… still they’re missing out, and so are we!

As many travellers in Arugam Bay have gravitated to Sooriya’s for Ram’s hospitality and culinary skills the evenings are spent round a communal table, playing cards, eating, drinking, smoking, and telling stories & jokes… which is all well and good but some of these young men are here to party aswell as to surf an getting desperate to just see a woman. My needs aren’t quite so primal as my intention for this trip was more as a retreat than a rave but A-Bay is beginning to seem like borstal-with-a-view but with more beer, surf and better food.

I’ve learnt to exist well in these testosterone fuelled environments from my school days but I’m not entirely comfortable . As evenings progress and otherwise decent aussies show their deep seated bigotism and racism – I haven’t met an Australian man who isn’t racist yet – I’m disappointed to find most others at the table laugh and join in with the “abbo” jokes, except perhaps Panu, a warm and gentle Finnish man. It must be born of ignorance over contemplation because on every other level I really get on with these people.
As we all get to know each other better the sessions at the point are getting more and more convivial. The brotherly concept of surfers calling us ‘tryers’ into makeable waves and pulling out of waves to let us get the tail end is a beautiful thing. Whoops go up when a good wave is ridden and there’s genuine shared joy as the learners improve.

Ed Templeton

http://ed-templeton.blogspot.com/2008/05/band-of-brothers.html

Green quest in war-torn nation

Jim Jarvie, 47, Mercy Corps director of climate change and environment

IT’S not a country which has had its troubles to seek – a fact borne out by the blown-up tanks which have been left scattered across the dusty landscape of Afghanistan.

Amid the violence, bloodshed and turmoil which has racked this country, there is another casualty, one which is often overlooked but which experts say needs to be healed in order to give the nation and its citizens a brighter future – the environment.

Which is why Mercy Corps’ director of climate change and environment, Jim Jarvie, is visiting the country to see how its natural resources can be conserved and restored.

He says: “One of the indirect problems of the wars is environmental degradation which is horrendous. There’s not a lot of forest left after 30 years of civil war which has broken down enforcement of land use laws. And agriculture is a key part of Afghan life. We have been working with local people on planting new crops to stabilise river banks and return to environmentally friendly farming methods.”

Mercy Corps is also joining forces with Edinburgh University to look into wider climate change issues in countries like Afghanistan to try to find out what the impact has been.

Jim says: “We are looking water access in Afghanistan, desertification in Niger and rising sea levels in Indonesia. We want to get a baseline on what climate change is doing to these countries.”

During his two-week trip earlier this month Jim also witnessed the brutality of daily life – with conflict within families as well as warring factions.

He says: “There are a lot of people with missing limbs blown off by landmines. There is a lot of domestic violence too, a lot of people who are pretty desperate.”

Jim, whose family are based in North Berwick, began working for Mercy Corps after the Asian tsunami when he and wife Laurie Pierce, 50, were carrying out conservation and conflict management work for other organisations in Sri Lanka.

He says: “There were bodies on the beach and it was difficult work but it was good to be doing something. We had been at a place called Arugam Bay three days before it happened and we went back to help and started working with Mercy Corps.”

Later he worked on longer term projects becoming first director of programmes for Sri Lanka and then acting country director.

Jim’s current role, which he began in March last year, has also taken him to New Orleans to see how people are recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Mercy Corps has been helping through work recycling parts of houses such as doors to use in the reconstruction of the area.

He says it was shocking to see how poorly the US was doing in helping victims.

He says: “It was as bad as the Third World.”

The full article contains 485 words and appears in Edinburgh Evening News newspaper.
Page 1 of 1


Focus on the East

Thursday, 22 May 2008
Intelligence units have claimed some NGOs have provided rations and other assistance to LTTE units presently operating inside Yala Sanctuary. They have given this assistance in the guise of helping Hindu pilgrims making their annual pilgrimage by foot from the East to Kataragama. The rations and other equipment are believed to have been given between Okanda and Panama in Ampara.

Meanwhile ethnic violence rose its ugly head again in the East with the assassination of the TMVP Political Head for Kathankudy Shanthan and his aide Raman Parasuraman while riding a motorbike near Kathankudy Bus stand at noon today by alleged ‘Jihadi’ Gunmen notorious for their activities in the Muslim enclave of Kathankudy, 3kms from Batticaloa Town.

TMVP gunmen killed 3 Muslims in retaliation at around 12.20pm injuring 11 civilians including one Sinhalese near Arayampathi Tamil village. The Karuna group is notorious for its anti-Muslim stance despite having a Muslim spokesman. Defence sector sources warned growing ethnic disharmony could facilitate furhter LTTE infiltrations.

The TMVP resettled a large number of Tamils from former LTTE controlled areas at Karbala, a village originally belonging to Muslims from Kathankudy. Shanthan played an important role in that and also in the recent election campaign for the TMVP from his office at Kathankudy.

Meanwhile M.L.A.M. Hizbullah was sworn in today as the Minister of Health for the Eastern Province. Government Muslim leaders and others in the East had convinced Hizbullah to accept the post after he initially elected to leave the UPFA with two loyalists.

Sri Lanka also lost its seat in the Human Rights Council but managed to gain 101 votes, more than half the seats of the council, which is 97 seats. Sri Lanka won 123 seats last year. Pakistan, despite being under a military rule, won what could have been Sri Lanka’s seat in the council.

-defencewire

source:
http://www.srilankawatch.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=
563&Itemid=2

Security concerns hold back foreign traveller to the East

By Dilrukshi Fernando

The tourism industry is expected to thrive on a targeted paltry figure of around 1000 domestic tourists in an effort to boost travel to the East within the next quarter, a top government official told the Daily Financial Times yesterday.

The expected number is relatively low due to security concerns which is a factor preventing domestic tourists from touring the area, the official added.

“The Ministry of Tourism hopes to engage in large scale infrastructure development and transportation to ensure a growth,” the official said. The reason for targeting domestic tourists is a stratagem adopted by the Ministry of Tourism and the Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB) through which they hope to reach the international market, the official pointed out.

With emphasis on the Eastern Province, a decline in tourist arrivals has been recorded in the Southern District. However the figures show a growth of 8.6% when compared with 2007 according to Tourism Ministry Secretary George Michael. “Last year the number of tourist arrivals for March stand at 35,031 while this year it is 38, 049,” he pointed out adding that the existing travel advisories and the prevalent security situation in Colombo might be discouraging factors. “The industry has made plans to have round table discussions regarding this matter and we hope to meet in Hambantota in June to hold discussion with officials from the hotel trade, representatives from the Chambers of Commerce and Small and Medium Enterprise officials,” he added.

In the meantime the transportation sector is to be developed by enabling railway facilities for domestic tourists at Arugam Bay according to Deputy Minister for Tourism, Faizer Musthapha. His comments came at the monthly discussion on tourism held at the Ministry yesterday. “The ministry plans to work closely with the Provincial Council which plans to fund certain projects of the Tourism Ministry and SLTB. Finances will also be directed from donor funds.

The tourist police will be deployed in the resorts to ensure the safety of the tourists. A comprehensive website including information of the Arugam bay tourism prospects can be located at www.arugambay.com.

Meanwhile, in a technologically advanced initiative a web cam project will be initiated to monitor the wave pattern of the Arugam Bay which is considered one of the top ten surfing destinations in the world. “Through this project, surfing enthusiasts all over the world can access the facility on the internet and tour the island for the much loved sport,” Musthapha added. Plans also are underway to bring back the international surfing competition currently held in the Maldives back to Sri Lanka.

Steps will also be taken to work closely with the fishing community in the area and ensure that they are provided with basic toilet facilities. A hotel school will also be set up in the areas of Uppuweli and Arugam Bay on government property. “This is part of the long term programmes while short term plans include training and skills development of youth whose employment in the Middle East will be ensured,” Roy Jayasinghe said. A programme to launch a tourist guide training programme and a ‘Home Stay’ programme where housewives will be trained on how to entertain guests will also be part of the steps to be taken to boost the Eastern Tourism industry.

source:
http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=15541

Focus on the East

Intelligence units have claimed some NGOs have provided rations and other assistance to LTTE units presently operating inside Yala Sanctuary. They have given this assistance in the guise of helping Hindu pilgrims making their annual pilgrimage by foot from the East to Kataragama. The rations and other equipment are believed to have been given between Okanda and Panama in Ampara.

Meanwhile ethnic violence rose its ugly head again in the East with the assassination of the TMVP Political Head for Kathankudy Shanthan and his aide Raman Parasuraman while riding a motorbike near Kathankudy Bus stand at noon today by alleged ‘Jihadi’ Gunmen notorious for their activities in the Muslim enclave of Kathankudy, 3kms from Batticaloa Town.

TMVP gunmen killed 3 Muslims in retaliation at around 12.20pm injuring 11 civilians including one Sinhalese near Arayampathi Tamil village. The Karuna group is notorious for its anti-Muslim stance despite having a Muslim spokesman. Defence sector sources warned growing ethnic disharmony could facilitate furhter LTTE infiltrations.

The TMVP resettled a large number of Tamils from former LTTE controlled areas at Karbala, a village originally belonging to Muslims from Kathankudy. Shanthan played an important role in that and also in the recent election campaign for the TMVP from his office at Kathankudy.

Meanwhile M.L.A.M. Hizbullah was sworn in today as the Minister of Health for the Eastern Province. Government Muslim leaders and others in the East had convinced Hizbullah to accept the post after he initially elected to leave the UPFA with two loyalists.

Sri Lanka also lost its seat in the Human Rights Council but managed to gain 101 votes, more than half the seats of the council, which is 97 seats. Sri Lanka won 123 seats last year. Pakistan, despite being under a military rule, won what could have been Sri Lanka’s seat in the council.

source:

http://defencewire.blogspot.com/2008/05/focus-on-east.html

LTTE Plans, PottuVille, South

Earlier when the LTTE was defeated and chased out of the East, a small contingent of nearly 100 cadres under LTTE’s Colonel Ram managed to infiltrate into the East and were hiding in the Yala National Park and were involved in guerilla attacks.

It is now learnt that Ram is having around 350 cadres of the Mayuran Brigade in Kumana forest area. The balance 1,150 cadres of are said to be lurking in the Madhuru oya and Kudambimalai jumgle areas.

According to villagers living around the Yala National Park revealed that the LTTE is planning to launch a major offensive in the East, whilst the Sri Lankan Armed forces focuses on its operations up North in an effort to liberate the Northern Province from the clutches of the LTTE.

Furthermore, LTTE cadres from the Jeyanthan Brigade have infiltrated into the Kumbukanai area and have begun to ask locals in Kumbukanai for their assistance.

In the meantime reports reveals that a leading commander of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal is now working discreetly with Col Ram and LTTE men.

According to another report, the said leading TMVP commander in the Amparai district who is a close associate of former leader Karuna is said to be in direct communication with the LTTE’s Commander Ram who is based in the Kumana forested area.

Also, it was reported that the said TMVP Commander use to purchase DIALOG phone cards regularly to top up the mobile phones of the LTTE’s Commander Ram and his deputy Jiyaththan.

It was also brought to the notice that the Pro-LTTE Tamil news paper “Sudaroli” based in Colombo, which referred Karuna as just Karuna in previous publications has suddenly begun to refer Karuna as “Karuna Amman” similar to how they refer their Intelligence Head “Pottu Amman” which is a respectable way the LTTE cadres address their commanders. This reference was made in their latest publication – Tuesday’s issue dated 20 May, which clearly indicates a possible collusion of those associated to Karuna and the LTTE.

– Asian Tribune –

source:
http://www.asiantribune.com/?q=node/11301

As gamarala has rightly

As gamarala has rightly pointed out, it is pathetic that the LTTE and their financiers, the Tamil Diaspora,and their proxies in SL, the TNA, are sacrificing their own innocent bretheren to a lost cause. When will the Diaspora give up this senseless killings? They are directly responsible for all the kilings as the LTTE operates with their money and support. LTTE is nothing without their support. There is a lot of blood on the Tamil Diaspora hands, and its not just Sinhala or Muslim blood, but their own.

LTTE’s second in command is

LTTE’s second in command is dead. The big man Praba is hiding in the thick jungle. The Terrorist diaspora funding terrorism is away from all action. Poor tamil kids are in the forefront fighting and killing themselves.

What a life?

Even Israel and Syria are negotiating peace. There are discussions to end the crisis in Lebonon.

When will LTTE understand where the world is heading? Do they have to be decimated before they realise the misery they are causing to the civilians. Do they have to sacrifice all the Tamils in their area of control?

If they think that they will be tolerated in the East, it is another big mistake – not second to killing Rajiv Gandhi.

Arugam Bay: Things come and Go






the internet is at best intermittent here in crazy lazy aragam bay – so this post may have a long gestation period. a nine hour, two hundred mile drive from colombo through the hill country navigating horrendous roads delivered me to this bizarre enclave of peace in a crazy civil war ridden, election frenzied (the first in twenty years!) eastern sri lanka. the sound of gunfire and bombing whilst out surfing this evening turned out, of course, to be fireworks at a local buddhist festival!

it was sad to lave the ashram family, they made me very welcome and unusually I felt at home immediately upon arrival which is testament to the spirit of the place. I’d love to see them again, and my imagination has been captured by india. wouldn’t it be great to do a road trip around the coast finding surf spots along the way… anyone interested?

having spent two weeks in lacsidasical coastal karnatika I got an intense blast of what india can offer a rooky when I transferred from mumbai’s domestic terminal to the international one for my flight to colombo. it was a thirty minute ride but it packed in a middle-england’s lifetime’s worth of sound, colour, traffic, dirt, poverty, mayhem and all round sensual overload. there’s almost too much life happening there for my tiny mind to comprehend!

i only managed to get my camera around the lagoon in mulki to the beach for one morning’s photography – that’s a damn shame as we had much better sessions than the one recorded here but on reflection i realised i’ve only put one surfing image up so here’s a few more…

2 comments:

sis said…
hey the blog is great.. really good to hear your news.. takes me a little time to log in so just a quick hello…
ahhhhh Innndia…..
I really identify with your observation of brimming with life… it is such an extraordinary continent for that.. even the brilliant green leaves seem to have a an extra dose of life force..
there is much I can say about that aspect of india and why it has attracted the ‘inner-world focus’ it has…
compared to any country in the world the indian’s seem to have concerntrated on ‘ what it is to be alive’ …. perhaps this is as a consequence of
having a surfeit of life….. the trapping and extra toppings we have in the west have been, until recently, non existent,….so therefore it is ‘ very good common sense’
to look inwardly at life as opposed to the external focus we have the privilege to experience….. and yet living with an outer world focus without the inner world is empty..
and that is what we experience more and more …..
a balance is required of course..
which is why all the ashrams have ‘good business focus’ of course…. it makes sense…
I don’t know about you but I find the indian’s, broadly speaking of course, to be intelligent and young minded i.e. agile and flexible thinking…
anyway blah blah blah…
very hot here
all well
love sis x

Elephants near Arugam Bay

Lahugala Kitulana National Park

Lahugala Elephants

Size 1,554 hectares
Main attraction Large herds of elephants
 

The Lahugala Park was initially declared a sanctuary on 1 st July 1966 and then upgraded to a national park on 1 st October 1980. Although this is one of the smallest national parks in the country, this is a popular location for elephant enthusiasts and bird watchers.

There are 3 tanks within the park. They are, Lahugala (243ha), Kitulana and Sengamuwa. The water from these tanks flow in to the Heda Oya. These tanks are largely silted up and support an abundance of Beru grass, which is a delicacy for elephants. These lakes also support a large variety of birds, local as well as migratory.

Lahugala herds

Being in the dry zone, the land is generally flat with occasional boulder formations. In addition to the elephants, the park is home to the endemic toque macaque, common languor, sloth bear, jackal, rusty spotted cat, fishing cat, leopard, wild bear, Indian muntjac, spotted deer, sambar, pangolin and black naped hare. The tanks and the surround area has become nestling places for wetland birds like pelican, purple heron, painted stork, lesser adjutant stork, white bellied sea eagle, grey headed fishing eagle, common kingfisher, stork billed kingfisher and white breasted kingfisher. Endemic comb duck, rare red-faced malkoha and Sri Lankan Spur fowl too can be seen the park.

There is no accommodation in the park it self, but Pothuvil and Monaragala can be used as the base when visiting the park.

Ancient temple

On the nor then edge of the park is the Magul Maha Viharaya, an ancient temple built by king Devanmpiyathissa in the second century BC. This is said to be the location the king married princess Vihara Maha Devi. The foundations of the “Magul maduwa” where the wedding ceremony took place can still be seen in the vihara premises. The entire Vihara complex had covered an extent of around 10,000 acres where ruins of a palace, moonstone, monastery, bo-maluwa, stupas, ponds etc. are found scattered all over. The moonstone here is said to be unique in the country as this is the only location where elephants are carved with their mahouts in the moonstone.

Location

Lahugala National park lies in the basin of the Heda Oya, 16km inland from the coastal town of Pottuvil in the Monaragala District. The Pottuvil-Monaragala trunk road runs through the south-eastern sector of the park. It is 2 km off the main Monaragala – Pottuvil road some 5 km from Pottuvil.

source:
http://www.lankalive.info/wildlife/lahugala/lahugala.php

Humanitarian Vultures Circle Again

…. Unsurprisingly, the waves at Arugam Bay (one of the top ten surf beaches in the world) continued to be crowded on weekends with the hard working humanitarian brigade…..
By T.B. Tennekoon

Oh what joy to the global flock of humanitarian vultures. Just as things were looking bleak and the offal train was emptying for these hoards who pray on human misery, Nargis lashed recalcitrant Myanmar and the violence of a restless earth rocked the Sechuan Province of China. Thousands died. Many more were left homeless. Hopeless eyes stared sadly from countless newspaper cover pages. The numbers being quoted by the international humanitarian brigade, readily repeated by the global media, kept growing although they had no verifiable access to the affected areas to determine actual figures. Prospects of feeding on the trail of misery left behind by nature’s rage brought back joyful whoops to the global humanitarian brigade, including sadly, at the UN.

Unfortunately, the motives of the entirety of the global humanitarian brigade have not always been pure. While one would expect the misery caused by human acts of omission or commission or by the vagaries of nature to pull heavily on sympathetic heart strings of the good and produce the best in human nature, this has not been the case always. The genuine feelings of charity of the many has paved the road to five star hotels, four wheel drive vehicles and hedonistic life styles for the humanitarian vultures.

Post tsunami Sri Lanka was a clear example. Billions of Dollars were collected around the world to help devastated and shell shocked Sri Lanka. Little children stood on freezing street corners that winter to collect the pennies from the charitable. Only a fraction of this amount ever reached the country and every effort by government agencies to obtain a proper accounting, including by the Peace Secretariat, has proved futile. UN agencies have been equally coy about revealing the way they have expended the millions collected. Even if one were to discount the huge amounts pledged by certain countries in a blaze of publicity, and never delivered, millions collected by NGOs from the public remain unaccounted.

But a casual visit to Colombo during the immediate post tsunami period would have shed some light on this matter. The place was crowded with white humanitarian workers of all sizes and shapes. Some genuinely motivated by a desire to help but most drawing international salaries. Some were happily established in this tropical paradise in substantial mansions with their families. The roads were crowded with expensive four wheel drive vehicles which most locals could never afford. Five star hotels, night clubs and restaurants depended on the custom of these global do-gooders.

One begins to get an idea as to where most of the funds collected for tsunami victims went. Thousands of these victims continued to suffer in plastic tents for months with little access to clean water or sanitation. There were international NGOs that blatantly engaged in religious conversions under the guise of providing tsunami assistance. Some NGOs were forced to return land allocated to them for constructing houses for tsunami victims as no construction had taken place. Millions of Dollars collected from a gullible public ostensibly to restore the Galle Cricket Ground never arrived in Sri Lanka. A Colombo newspaper famously reported a comment by a buxom blonde aid worker overheard in a nightclub. “This country sucks. There is no sex”.

As the months and years drifted by and Sri Lanka pulled itself up by its boot straps, largely by its own efforts (over 83 per cent of tsunami reconstruction is now complete), the army of do-gooders found other excuses for continuing to stay in the lazy tropical paradise. The ongoing conflict and the resulting displacements provided a ready excuse for extended stays. Often the numbers of displaced persons and violations of human rights were exaggerated and these stories were readily picked up by the international media and the international community based in Colombo. After a military incursion into Sampur in 2006, the BBC reported that 41,000 civilians had been displaced when the entire peninsula was the home for only about 16,000 persons.

The donor community was encouraged to create a new use for the thousands of humanitarian workers who yearned to stay. Interestingly a new refrain began to be heard, often parroted by donor missions, demanding access to the conflict areas by humanitarian workers. The western missions found a ready source of information (or misinformation) in the thousands of humanitarian workers scattered around the country and, relying on these, were not reluctant to take free kicks at their host government with little check on their self serving nature.

Amazingly, these workers were encouraged to resort to their embassies for help rather than the local authorities at the drop of a hat causing unnecessary irritations. The urge to stay on the part of the humanitarian brigade was great. The UN Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs curiously took over a human rights role when they had been invited to Sri Lanka to deal with post tsunami reconstruction.

Unsurprisingly, the waves at Arugam Bay (one of the top ten surf beaches in the world) continued to be crowded on weekends with the hard working humanitarian brigade.

Sri Lanka has gradually encouraged the humanitarian brigade to leave. It has insisted that UN agencies and the ICRC replace international staff with locals who are often better qualified and very much cheaper. The international agencies have reluctantly begun to comply with this demand echoed by the Foreign Ministry. The Thais have also recovered substantially from the tsunami. India never allowed the global do-gooders into the country after the tsunami.

Against this background the raucous clamor to enter Myanmar and China in the aftermath of the cyclone and the earthquake assumes a sad and understandable complexion. The reluctance of resurgent China, reflecting the pride of Asia, to permit international aid workers to enter the country following the Sechuan earthquake has been particularly irksome to the do-gooder brigade. What an opportunity to miss to visit and enjoy the glories of China.

Similarly, Myanmar’s reluctance to permit the do-gooder brigade into the country has been met with noisy disappointment and strident criticism. The fact that these countries may be able to deal with the twin disasters with their own resources may just not be palatable to the white humanitarian vultures. (Myanmar has permitted aid to flow through its ASEAN neighbors suggesting that it is all too aware of the post tsunami experience of countries such as Sri Lanka).

It is particularly disappointing that an Asian Secretary-General of the UN should join the demands of the white humanitarian brigade for access to Myanmar and China. Is it not possible for us to accept that these countries may just be able to deal with the emergencies in their own way, perhaps with limited assistance from the outside. In contrast, we did not hear a similarly persistent clamor from the UN to assist the US where the devastation caused by Katrina still remains or in the aftermath of the disastrous Californian fires. Perhaps the response of the remaining super power was all too predictable.

– Asian Tribune –
source:
http://www.asiantribune.com/?q=node/11298

Paddling in the right direction…

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka
By penfold, May 18, 2008
tim-at-arugam-bay.jpg
…a surf trip to a country struggling through the aftermath of tsunamic devestation whilst in the grip of civil war certainly leaves you with some intense and varied emotional responses – the most potent being at the epicenter of destruction on the east coast at Arugam Bay. At times the despair and futility of life there could be overwhelming but then miraculously overshadowed by the genuine joy and laughter of the local children playing innocently in the water that swept away lives that they will only ever know about through story telling from the survivors.

The world was told that this country had been rebuilt and that the millions of dollars that left the western world found it’s rightful place sheltering and feeding families but we saw little evidence of that – a half built housing complex with a billboard thanking ‘Oprah’ or dozens of unused fishing boats. It seems a lot of good things were started with the best of intentions but many projects still remain unfinished…

What we did find were a few good people taking small but vital steps towards rebuilding a forgotten corner of the planet. One being Tim from Paddle 4 relief – a Devon surfer that has made Sri Lanka his home. Disgusted by the horrendous mishandling of funds he started his own charity – organising sponsored paddling events and small gigs in the UK to raise cash that would go directly to the people that needed it. A new pre-school has been built, water supplies cleaned and roofs mended. A plea in the West country for used surfboards produced the start of the Arugam Bay surf club and swimming school.

Of course it’s not all about saving lives and digging wells – Tim still finds time to drop in on a few mates at the point every day getting his 9′ 6″ nicely slotted into the face of one of the best rights in the Bay of Bengal…

I didn’t surf today but I did sneak a few off the locals at Abay a couple of weeks ago.

Walling, peeling, walling, peeling, walling, peeling, hmmm…..

source:
http://www.papersurfer.co.uk/?p=333

Arugam Bay on Thorntree

Arugam Bay – current situation

hi,
have someone currently is or was in Arugam Bay lately? whats about safety there?
news from Sri Lanka aren’t optimistic, another bomb attack… and another victims… it’s so sad!

Sarawak
Posted
27-Apr-2008 00:46
by: Sarawak Posts: 1
Registered: 27/04/08

Hi sarawak,
No ones come in on this , so I can give you an answer even if I wasn’t there.
I was in Lanka a few weeks ago and as usual, before flying home I spent a couple of days in Negombo.
In the same place a driver/guide , from Arugam Bay, was staying and over a few beers we got along well and chatted a lot.
He assured me that there is no problem in Arugam Bay except the lack of tourists. The nearest they came to the troubles was the attack on a bus about 2 months ago which was on the road used to get to Arugam Bay.
So, if you’re going to Lanka and want to go to Arugam, then head there.
The people there connected to the tourist trade are really suffering, so if you’re thinking of going there with a car and driver, call this guy,
K.M.Rifai, ( just known as Rifai). Nice Place, ArugamBay, Pottuvil.
Tel; +94-63-2248193 or 077 3412240
He’ll be happy to collect rom the airport , or Negombo, or Haputale , or Ella, where ever.
Rod.

Posted
28-Apr-2008 10:32
by: Rod_B Posts: 528
Registered: 09/12/03

Note:
Travel bus bus is not recommended at present due to bomb threats on the way.
Best may be to arrange a shared taxi/mini bus.
Simply drop a mail to:
ArugamTaxi@Gmail.com
and they will suggest your best and most economical option.

2

Hi! I was just in Arugam Bay for 10 days last week. It was perfectly safe though there were only a handful of surfers there (the surf was up!). There is an increased military presence, especially on the road between Monoragula and Pottuvil due to the upcoming elections in the Ampara district but these military guys were exceptionally pleasant to me (even stopping me to show me elephants and practice their english). There are lots of police and military checkpoints in the Ampara district which slows down travel considerably if you are travelling by bus (though my things were never checked) but, when travelling by tuk-tuk, I just got waved through. I stayed at the Tsunami Hotel, prices are low because there is not much tourism happening. If you go, call Najeem (0776163459); he took me out every day in his tuk tuk to see the elephants and crocodiles, speaks good english, charges “whatever you want”, and is a young and silly guy. He is also a retired Sri Lankan Army guy so is great at knowing what is going on and speaking to the military guys. He also knows all the great surf spots, if that is what you are into.

I spent six weeks in Sri Lanka (solo as a woman-apparently a rare occurance!) and had no problems with the situation except that I would recommend not travelling to the north (north of Anarandapura) or spending more time than necessary in the Colombo bus station. Have fun!

Posted
28-Apr-2008 20:45
by: zorra666 Posts: 8
Registered: 31/03/03

3

Great to hear that all is well in Arugam Bay – we stayed at the Tsunami hotel in 2004 – wasn’t really sure how it faired after the tsunami – Naleem was the manager when we were there – is he still there? – he had 3 little girls and lived in Pottuvil. Is it possible to catch a bus from Colombo to Pottuvil? We got terribly lost trying to get there!

Posted
06-May-2008 10:30
by: kimm Posts: 58
Registered: 24/02/01

4

Hi Kimm,
Best is to get a train from Kandy, south through the hill country, then a bus from Haputale to Pottuvil. Gets you there easy and you get to enjoy the scenery of the hill country from the train.
Rod.
Posted
06-May-2008 17:40
by: Rod_B Posts: 528
Registered: 09/12/03

5

You can go to A’Bay as far as I know. I am in regular contact with Fred, owner of Siam View Hotel there, who assures me there are no partic. problems at all! It is a great place and lovely unspoilt jungle to visit south of the area as well as fine surf of course. I am from France and upcountry Sri Lanka by the way!

Posted
09-May-2008 20:45
by: suryanamaska Posts: 27
Registered: 07/06/07

source:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/message.jspa?messageID=14049614

Plans to revive Arugam Bay

Post-Eastern polls forecasts ‘vibrant’ economy

By Dilrukshi Fernando and Ravindu Peiris

The business community has expressed concern over who is to be appointed as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province. “As the Pillayan faction is reported to be armed, it is definitely not a positive sign. However, he did contest the elections” Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mahen Dayananda said while adding that opposing parties have complained to the Elections Commissioner about flaws in the Eastern PC polls, which is a sign for concern.

President of the Federation of the Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) Nawaz Rajabdeen stated that people should not consider Pillayan as a terrorist when allowing him to sort out the problems in the east. “If you consider him a terrorist and draw differences, then you create animosity” Rajabdeen affirmed. He pointed out that if there are internal conflicts in the east, it would not be a peaceful environment for the locals.

Rajabdeen further observed that although all politicians have their own personal agendas, they should set aside their differences and support the people. “How many politicians visited the area when the tsunami hit? But for the Eastern polls all of them went there and promised various things,” he noted.

The UPFA won the election, with the Chief Minister’s position falling vacant for either L.A.M Hizbullah or Pillaiyan. Despite entering the democratic process, the TMVP faction still carry arms claiming it is for personal security purposes.

Infrastructure essential

“Infrastructure leaves much to be desired. Electricity, water and basic requirements are some of the necessities that are in need of immediate action,” Dayananda said. He divulged that the Chamber had been supporting the East with financial assistance through their regional chambers particularly Batticaloa. “We will continue to support them and if all goes well on a structured framework a noticeable change will occur in the economy with the East contributing. It will definitely be converted into a realm of possibility.”

Rajabdeen in the meantime claimed that the private sector was positive about the elections in the East so long as development takes place.

They had established several ‘Back to Business’ initiatives in the aftermath of the tsunami which had assisted those victimised entrepreneurs to get back on their feet. It was revealed that now that the elections have been held, the FCCISL is examing the possibility of commencing a similar project to this as well in addition to a project to boost the livelihood of women. Rajabdeen furthermore conveyed that if a conducive environment remained, investments were bound to increase. “Poverty alleviation is a priority. The government must think of this and also regional development and should especially support the agro based industry,” he stated.

Tourism foresees boost in benefits

Sri Lanka Tourism is anticipating a bright future with the Eastern Province contributing. Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Renton De Alwis stated that the country should not rush-in for international tourism and that we should first boost the local tourism sector. When questioned if revenue from tourism will increase due to the recent political developments in the East, he said “Certainly it would increase but not as direct revenue to the government but as benefits to the local community.”

He added that even before the elections, the government was attempting to promote tourism but now further stability was evident in the area. Delving into the programmes they intend to conduct in the area, Alwis said that they are going to build an exquisite resort in Pasikuda with the help of seven investors and the Institute of Architects. Sri Lanka Tourism plans to revive the areas of Kalkuda, Nilaweli and Arugam Bay. Other plans include steps to overcome the issue of shortage in accommodation through measures such as recreational vehicle parks (Caravans).

“The East can help reduce the economic imbalance”- Trade Minister

Commenting on the impact of the recent elections, the Minister of Trade Bandula Gunewardena sid “Business people cannot control terrorism, which is a huge obstacle to conduct business and trade.” According to Gunewardena, the elections were of high importance as it enabled the removal of terrorism, which was a high risk factor in the region. Liberating the East from LTTE control has opened avenues for the initiation of development projects relating to infrastructure and healthcare the Minister added. “Now the people have an opportunity to address their own issues. The ‘Nagenahira Navodaya’ programme of the National Task Force can now confer its power to the Provincial Councils because of election,” he added.

The province is rich in natural resources and contributes to the industries of agriculture and fisheries. “If utilized properly the region can contribute to the increment of the country’s GDP, and work towards achieving a balance in the economic development,” the minister opined.

Entrepreneurs don’t see any significant change for the future 

Although the ground situation doesn’t look as favourable, Anwer*, an entrepreneur from Trincomalee said the elections have not expressed the voice of the people. “It was a government election. Initiated by them and finally carried according to their own advantage. Tamils are not happy with the result,” he said. Anwer divulged the plight of large scale businessmen who have to pay bribes to the TMVP in order to continue their business. “The Stuffing of ballot boxes and obstructing voters were issues for us at the election but we are more worried about the consequences that will follow the election,” he said adding that the fear instilled in traders and civilians by the armed personnel have restricted the movements of the public. “How can there be a change when the same government that ruled before the election will continue to rule hereafter?”

In contrast was Haroun* from Batticaloa who is engaged in the agricultural sector said “we are happy that the elections were finally held in the East after two decades. This will give us an opportunity to address several regional problems which have long been neglected by the central government,” he added. His optimism comes with hopes of expanding his business in the future.

source:
http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=14911

Life is a Beach!

Where? At Arugam Bay of course!

Benedom? Rimini? No! Arugam Bay!

All is quiet, calm, peaceful, blue and pretty in the remote little Bay of Arugam.
Also:

Swell is UP!

Not AbaY - but we are the next best break

See you on the beach this coming weekend?