This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 002078
STATE FOR CA/OCS AND SA/INS
STATE ALSO PASS USAID/OFDA - GARVELINK, FLEMING, THAYER
BANGKOK FOR USAID/OFDA - DOLAN
GENEVA FOR NANCY KYLOW
DELHI FOR FAS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AEMR CASC EAID PGOV PREL CE MV
SUBJECT: TFX001: SITREP NO. 4 ON SRI LANKA AND MALDIVES,
REF: A. COLOMBO 2073 AND PREVIOUS
B. STATE 275844
1. (U) American Citizens: A total of 7 Americans are
confirmed dead; 68 remain unaccounted for; 233
welfare/whereabouts cases have been resolved. One American
consular officer and one Consular FSN traveled to Matara
District on December 31 to visit hospitals.
2. (SBU) Government Actions: According to the most recent
figures obtained from the Presidential Secretariat, 28,508
persons were killed in the December 26 tsunami. On December
31 the President convoked a meeting with a number of
ambassadors, including the U.S. Ambassador. She advised that
the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) is formulating a
comprehensive reconstruction plan, due to be released on
January 15; international assistance is being sought to
support the reconstruction activities the plan will outline.
The President informed the ambassadors that members of the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are participating in
district committees formed in the north and east to address
disaster relief and reconstruction efforts, adding that so
far cooperation has been good. (UNDP ResRep Miguel Bermeo,
who participated in a meeting on disaster relief held at
Tiger "headquarters" in Kilinochchi on December 30, reported
to the Ambassador that the Tigers had shown an almost
unprecedented willingness to cooperate.) In addition, the GSL
has invited the LTTE to participate in the all-party
committee being formed to address reconstruction efforts; no
reply has been received thus far. The World Bank
representative noted that Sri Lanka will receive
approximately USD 100 million in emergency funds from the
World Bank, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
representative reported his organization had approved a
quick-disbursing loan for Sri Lanka and indicated a
willingness to resume the Poverty Reduction and Growth
Facility (PRGF). The Ambassador conveyed his condolences to
the President on behalf of the U.S. and noted that
reconstruction efforts provide a significant new opportunity
for both parties to the conflict to work together for the
good of all Sri Lankans. He called for both sides to show
flexibility in meeting the many challenges ahead.
3. (SBU) Core Group Actions: The Ambassador will host a
meeting with core group counterparts at the Embassy on
January 2. Poloff discussed respective bilateral aid efforts
with Indian counterpart on December 31. DATT and his Indian
counterpart plan to go together to Sri Lankan Army Joint
Operations Headquarters to brief on assistance
offered/provided and to coordinate on a joint and combined
air operations center to deconflict aircraft.
4. (SBU) U.S. Actions: DATT, accompanied by four members
of the PACOM Disaster Relief Assessment Team (DRAT) and one
member of the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART),
helicoptered over a coastal stretch from Colombo to
Hambantota to assess damage and needs. This quick assessment
suggests severe long-term economic consequences for the
region and, inevitably, the entire country. Significant
numbers of dead bodies still litter the grounds, while
hundreds of cars, trucks and buses were observed still lying
on their sides. With the exception of a few hotels,
commercial enterprises, including stores, in Galle remain
closed. Railway service remains unavailable farther than 30
or so km south of Colombo, disrupting the delivery of relief
supplies and making travel to places of work more difficult
for hundreds of Sri Lankans. Paddy fields and vegetable
gardens in the south are completely flooded and littered with
debris, rendering them unharvestable. Galle Port, which is
the second largest commercial port in Sri Lanka, suffered
serious damage in the tsunami and appears able to service
only small fishing vessels.
5. (SBU) We understand there is still some discussion as to
which JTF assets will be deployed in particular countries.
We eagerly await clarification, as ability of our DRAT to
develop a plan to address the reconstruction needs of this
area will depend on what assets will be available.
6. (SBU) U.S. Actions (cont.): Members of the USAID
Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) are expected back in
Colombo from assessments in the field late on December 31.
The first planeload of relief supplies from DOD arrived early
December 31. An OFDA planeload of supplies is expected on
January 1. On January 1 the GSL will begin chairing daily
donor coordination meetings (previously chaired by UN). In
coordination with bilateral donors, international donors and
the GSL, USAID is soliciting proposals to assist the
districts of Matara, Galle and Hambantota. In addition,
USAID has agreed with the EU to help support proposals to
provide assistance in Ampara District. These activities are
in addition to relief already being supplied to the north and
east by USAID through the Sri Lankan Red Cross. USAID/OTI
will respond to the emergency by supporting local groups in
districts in the south, east and north.
7. (U) Agreement on Status of Forces: Ref B request was
conveyed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 31.
Neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor this Embassy has
a copy of the 1995 Agreement. Department is requested to fax
Embassy a copy of the Agreement at 94-11-243-7237.
8. (U) American Citizens: No Americans have been reported
killed in the Maldives. Two Americans remain unaccounted
9. (SBU) US Efforts: One DART member, one DRAT member and
one emboff will travel to Maldives to meet with government
officials on January 2.
10. (U) Agreement on Status of Forces: Embassy conveyed
Ref B request via diplomatic note sent to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs on December 31. Poloff spoke by telephone
with Foreign Secretary Zakariyya on December 31 to advise him
of the request. As of COB December 31, no response had been
received from the Government of Republic of Maldives.