Sri Lanka post Tsunami

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Goatman, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. Yes - helping an ex colony as best we can.

  2. No - the British Army should be deployed to help Sri Lanka.

  3. Why should we do more ? Not our responsibility.


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  1. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    As British aid appears to be focussed on Sri Lanka, with the deployment there of RFA Diligence and HMS Chatham, I thought this may be of interest:

    Grenades kill 3 in Sri Lanka during Annan visit
    U.N. chief not in area of attack; Tamil Tigers request visit

    MSNBC News Services
    Updated: 2:08 a.m. ET Jan. 9, 2005

    HAMBANTOTA, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka on Saturday asked U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan not to visit disaster-stricken areas controlled by the Tamil Tiger rebels, forcing the United Nations into a political situation it had hoped to avoid. Meanwhile, a grenade attack killed at least three people in the eastern part of the tsunami-ravaged country.

    Two hand grenades hurled in a clash between Christians and Hindus killed at least three people and wounded 37 in a part of eastern Sri Lanka where international aid workers are helping tsunami victims, police said.

    No aid workers were injured or near the explosions, officials said. Annan was in Colombo at the time of the blast.

    Two suspected assailants were arrested soon after the attack in a Tamil rebel-controlled area late Saturday, said V.H. Anil, a police officer in the eastern town of Valaichchenai.

    He said Christians were angry that Hindus had demolished a church and may have carried out the attack in retaliation.

    Clashes between Hindus and Christians are rare since both groups belong the Tamil minority and believe they are oppressed by the country’s Buddhist Sinhalese majority.

    'Humanitarian visit'
    U.N. officials said Annan wanted to assess tsunami damage and speak to the people of the battered northeastern coast, where thousands of Tamils were killed and many more lost their homes and livelihoods. Rebel leaders had asked him to visit.

    “I’m here on a humanitarian visit. I’m concerned about everyone with need in the humanitarian situation,” Annan said when asked if he would go to the rebel-held north. “But I’m also a guest of the government, and we’ll go where we agreed we’ll go.”

    Government officials said on condition of anonymity that Annan was told it could not guarantee his safety in rebel territory and that there was no precedent for a U.N. chief to make such a visit without negotiated agreements.

    Tigers, bishop appeal to U.N. chief
    But the Tigers, who have fought a 20-year war for Tamil independence from the Sinhalese-dominated south, had invited Annan to tour the northern province. The bishop of Jaffna, the cultural capital of the Tamils, also published an appeal to the U.N. chief.

    Senior U.N. officials said they regretted that Annan’s visit to Sri Lanka had become a political issue. Annan toured government-controlled areas of the country Saturday, a day after seeing the damage in Indonesia.

    The United Nations didn’t want to push the Sri Lankans on the issue, even though Annan’s decision not to visit the rebel area could affect the U.N.’s smooth relations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, the U.N. officials said.

    The LTTE has complained the Sri Lankan government was not treating their province equally, but Colombo has countered that it was being fair and giving the Tamil north even more than its share.

    The war between the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE has cost about 65,000 lives since 1983. With few infractions, the two sides have held to a cease-fire signed three years ago.

    The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


    Batticaloa, where the British aid effort is currently focussed, was in the uneasy grey zone - not held outright by the LTTE but close enough to their Jaffna stronghold area further North to be affected.

    Ironically, the East coast area is where the majority of the island's Muslim people are concentrated - neither Tamil/Hindu nor Sinhalese/Buddhist but afflicted by the conflict nonetheless.

    I forget the exact figures but a large proportion of the island's population is actually Catholic - stems from Portuguese occupation pre 1740. Bit like Goa.

    ( And Hambantota itself is a high exchange earning beach resort on the south coast from memory - historically rarely been involved with LTTE/Govt clashes )

    If anyone knows the island, I would be interested to hear how Delft had fared in the tsunami ?

    Le Chevre
  2. Goatman, one of the reporters on News 24 this morning said British Army personnel were present. Or did he mean Matelots in CS95?

    FLASH- This just appearing on the News

    2 questions

    1. I thought the Indo's didn't need Military help?

    2. Is there a Trawl going out for this?
  3. Oppressed by buddhists? 8O
    I thought they were one of the world's most peace-loving religions.
  4. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Sticky mate, your tag-line says it all.....the Sri Lankan conflict is more complex than USA Today/Newsweek sub-editors wish to grapple with.

    I had two visits there in late 80's/early 90's so my perspective is therefore a bit << historic >>.

    I was reminded by Hackle's posting re El salvador style << death squads>>.... this happened in Sri Lanka around the time of my visit.

    There was a Sinhalese backlash against the Tigers involving an allegedly pro Govt grouping called the JVP.

    Don't remember how many innocent Sri Lankans they killed but bodies were washing up on the beach in the capital Colombo.

    The day I left ( mid 1991) , the JVP had called an all-out strike which effectively stopped the country Nasty bunch. Strong suspicion that their operatives included many security service personnel.

    If it was a black and white conflict, it wouldn't have been running for 30 years....just like Bosnia, it is hard to identify ANY ' Good guys'....

    oh and up until the mid 90's, the British Govt turned a blind eye to a Tamil Tigers office in Central London....I used to walk past it on my way into work.

    Le Chevre
  5. buddists like the rest of the god bothering ******* quite happy to kill torture and kill for their cause . how many military units sorting out
    our own flood damage ?
    Its a huge disaster but not really our neck of the woods anymore
  6. I agree that they could do with the skills and proffesionalism of HMF but i suspect that if we do get involved that we may get caught in the middle of the warring factions. Just what we need, anothger bloody peace keeping expedition where we become the targets of the warring community. :roll: :roll:

    agent smith
  7. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    I heard a local report on the radio today about this Naval taskforce going out - if the numbers given in PTP's post above are true and they all converge on Sri Lanka it would make a HELL of a difference.

    Trouble is, I suspect the political imperative will mean that the schwerpunkt principle will go by the board and they will end up dotted around the Indian Ocean.

    Be interesting to know whether this is actually a long-planned Global 2005 trip which has been seized upon by the politicos......

    BTW, if you are viewing this topic , plse take the time to VOTE !

    << Embarquer CA ? Je peu'pas nager !>>

    Le Chevre
  8. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Turns out HMS Chatham had a documentary team onboard when she was diverted from Dubai.

    useful article from the team leader Chris Terrill at

    The ship also has a Royal marine detachment, which may explain comments about "Army" personnel being present.

    Just where do you start after a tsunami?

    We carried on around the south of the island and up the east coast until we got to a place called Batticaloa.

    The wave had smashed into this coastal town with such force that many of the estimated 2,000 dead had never been found. Entire neighbourhoods had disappeared. Whole sections of the population were homeless. Wells were full of salt water. And thousands were displaced. Families who for generations had lived by the sea and from the sea were deserting the sea. They had no possessions. They had no livelihood.

    Captain Chick and his officers quickly drew up plans. There would be a four pronged attack, as it were, on the needs of the people of Batticaloa and early on the morning of 7 January, work started. A forward party of Royal Marines had already gone in to check the area for landmines. This was a Tamil area and following years of war between the government and the separatist Tamil Tigers, the Sri Lankan army had laid down minefields. Even though there had been a ceasefire for the past two years, the minefields had remained intact - until the tsunami. The giant wave had washed many of the live mines away from their fields and scattered them. Once the marines were happy that the mine threat was minimal, 56 sailors and more marines were landed at beach heads established by the forward recce parties. The waters were treacherous, with many shallows inhabited by saltwater crocodiles.

    About 30 sailors went to the northern district, Kallady, and started to clean out any houses that were left standing. In the southern district, work on damaged fishing vessels could not start because nobody could find the owners. Nearby, however, was a Franciscan convent and orphanage called St Theresa's, where the wave had smashed down the perimeter wall. The head of the convent, Sister Irene, asked the sailors if they could help clear away the rubble and put up a fence to give them protection and security. The shore party agreed vigorously and started the work. Huge slabs of concrete and brick were manhandled to the other side of the road, pillars were erected into holes dug at intervals and barbed wire was strung across. The work - backbreaking and sweltering - took all day.


    good on you guys.....keep it going. Field gun team anyone ?

    Le Chevre
  9. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    From HMS Chatham website at

    The crews of HMS Chatham and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Diligence have widened their aid efforts to help a remote town of Kallar, south of Batticaloa, where a team of twenty sailors and a small medical team, including doctors, have been putting a hospital badly hit by the tsunami back into action.

    Members of the Devonport-based ship’s company helped refurbish a hospital, cleaned and disinfected the wards and unblocked the plumbing. The ship’s Medical Officers held a clinic in the hospital and dealt with an array of cases, ranging from injuries as a result of the tsunami to more common complaints such as asthma.

    Working in the main town of Batticaloa, another group of sailors from HMS Chatham worked at a Muslim school, clearing stagnant water from the surrounding area. This involved the digging by hand a trench one third of a mile long. The buildings were also cleared and with the help of residents the school will soon be reopening.

    A small team also carried out reconnaissance north of Batticaloa by one of HMS Chatham’s Lynx helicopters in order to survey the extent of damage to this region. It was evident the damage is severe, with some villages having been completely wiped out. However, the surviving population is receiving aid and water from government and aid agencies.

    A team from RFA Diligence (a support ship designed to provide repair/maintenance services to RN vessels worldwide) continued their work at St Theresa’s Girl’s School in Batticaloa, removing an unsafe wall and clearing an area to allow the children to play safely.

    Captain Steve Chick, the Commanding Officer of HMS Chatham, paid tribute to the sailors’ hard work: “Once again the teams from HMS Chatham and RFA Diligence have worked extremely hard ashore and have achieved significant progress. It is heartening to see that the small but tangible efforts we are making have encouraged the local population to start rebuilding their lives. In areas we have worked in a recently there is much more activity and recovery taking place. The crews of both ships are weary, but with so many willing volunteers we are managing to maintain our support to the people of this region.”

    © Crown Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved.


    coo, imagine what they could do with a JCB and some chunkies!

    Thanks to all who have voted in the poll - if you haven't, plse do so.

    Le Chevre
  10. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Following HMS Chatham's contribution to post-Tsunami emergency Ops thought this might be of interest to a largely land borne audience:
    During January and February Chatham has been on task in the waters off the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka, providing aid and assistance to the communities so badly hit by the Boxing Day Tsunami. Having sailed at such short notice it was a credit to the adaptability and resilience of our people that the focus shifted so quickly and completely from worrying about the lost days by the pool, to planning and organising a major relief effort.

    We arrived off the capital, Colombo in the early hours of the fourth of January, having completed a passage of over 2000 miles at an average speed of nearly 25 knots. Using our two helicopters, a second pilot and observer having joined us in Colombo, the ship moved straight into the recce phase. Working closely with military staff from the UK and Sri Lankan forces, and personnel from the British High Commission and Department for International Development, we repeatedly operated boats and helicopters close inshore to find an area where we could make a significant impact. The levels of devastation seen were amazing. Whole villages had been flattened and many fishing boats washed ashore – one even lodged on the fist floor balcony of a former hotel. Eventually we were directed to start landing teams and stores in the area surrounding the town of Batticaloa, on the eastern coast of the island. Teams from Chatham restored to use one church, a school, a hospital, and twelve wells, rebuilt fences and cleared tons of rubble at a convent, and erected several tent villages to help shelter some of the thousands of displaced persons. Our two helicopter crews have worked a punishing routine, transporting medical stores and personnel, as well as moving stores and equipment for other Organisations such as UNICEF and the Red Cross. For some idea of how hard they’ve worked, our aircrew have recorded three month’s worth of flying in less than two weeks.

    Teams from RFA Diligence, who joined us from Cochin, India, on the 7th, were integral to our success. Their engineers were busy restoring power and helping rebuild the local economy by repairing some of the countless damaged fishing boats. They were also involved with repairing a church, and a combined team from the two ships flew to the Maldives, where they worked towards restoring electricity supplies. Chatham’s teams back in Sri Lanka built another tented area for displaced locals, and assisted local builders to construct a bridge over a badly damaged, but vital, causeway. Operational requirements have meant that we had to leave the area, but we can rest assured that Chatham has made a difference for the better in this small region. Eventually we departed the area around Batticaloa on the 18th January and sailed to Colombo, the Sri Lankan Capital. The purpose of this visit was to meet with some of the Sri Lankan High Command and bid our farewells.

    Arriving in Colombo the ship berthed in one of the biggest and busiest ports in Southern Asia. Despite the official nature of the visit, many onboard revelled in the opportunity to visit what is a vibrant city. Tours were organised to take in some of the Sri Lankan countryside and even an Elephant orphanage! The thing that amazed many onboard was the friendliness of the Sri Lankan people, and this made the hard work of the previous fortnight worthwhile for all concerned. Sailing from Colombo on the 20th the Ship’s Company were able to look back to a job well done.

    After only a few days on passage, much of which was taken up by cleaning and re-storing gear used in the relief effort, Chatham arrived in Mumbai, India.[Bombay for older hands] One of the biggest cities in India, and certainly the industrial centre of that country’s economy, Mumbai proved an enjoyable run-ashore. The purpose of the visit was to further diplomatic relations with what is one of the most powerful and important countries east of Suez. Much of the Ship’s Company also took the opportunity to take a well-earned bit of rest and relaxation, be it shopping in some of the street markets or taking in the city’s massive variety of restaurants and bars. A city of amazing contrast, Mumbai will leave an impression on all who visited, if only because of the rather erratic quality of driving.

    Chatham sailed on the 28th of January and headed back into the seas surrounding the Arabian peninsular. Straight back into the operations she left a month earlier, Chatham was at sea monitoring shipping in the region, her boarding teams were in action night and day, and her helicopter was on regular patrol to detect, deter and disrupt terrorist activity in the region. This high intensity operation was a world away from our activities of the previous month, but only goes to prove the maxim that the Royal Navy is a ‘Flexible Force for Good’.

    The first week of February saw Chatham back in her patrol areas in the Arabian Sea, once again monitoring the shipping that sails those waters. The ship’s Boarding Teams were busy checking merchant ship documentation and trying to gain any useful information from the local sailors, all of whom know these waters extremely well. After a few days of this frenetic activity we headed through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Arabian Gulf, coming alongside Dubai on the morning of the 6th of Feb. This vibrant and rapidly growing city is a real melting pot, with significant numbers of Europeans and Asians living alongside the local Arab population. Always a firm favourite, Dubai has much to offer, and provides a great opportunity to relax and ease down from the operations we had been involved with. More Importantly for the Ship herself, Dubai also is home to some welcome painters and cleaners. In just two-weeks Chatham has been repainted bow to stern and cleaned from mast to waterline. Whilst alongside in Dubai, the Ship’s sports teams were also in action with the Rugby team playing two hard-fought matches against the Dubai Exiles and Dubai Hurricanes and only narrowly losing in both cases. Unfortunately the hockey team also saw the wrong end of the score sheet with a 7-0 loss to the Dubai Hockey Club. Not the resounding successes we had hoped for but a good show considering how little time for preparation there was.

    Chatham sailed from Dubai on the 20th Feb and at the time of writing is conducting training exercises in the Arabian Gulf with other Coalition Units. Within the next couple of days we will resume our high tempo operations in the Arabian Sea and get back to protecting shipping from Terrorist and Pirate, whilst hopefully disrupting any movement of illicit cargo and personnel.

    © Crown Copyright 2005. All Rights Reserved
    . [/i]

    This is why this island nation keeps a Navy - it may not be what it was in days gone by but you can still be proud of the Silent Service! 8)

    Le Chevre (Huzza!)
  11. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    i don't know about you but January seems a long time ago.....

    Devonport-based HMS Chatham returned to her homeport on Friday 20th May 2005 having carried out crucial tsunami relief work in Sri Lanka during a busy and varied six-month deployment.

    Sailing last November, she relieved her Devonport-based sister ship HMS Campbeltown, in early December and took up duties patrolling the Arabian seas as part of a wider operation contributing to a multinational task force aimed at deterring international terrorism, as well as helping nations in the region develop their maritime interdiction and shipping monitoring abilities.

    After spending Christmas on patrol the crew were looking forward to spending New Year in Dubai when the ship was diverted to Sri Lanka to assist in the disaster relief operations after the devastating tsunami. Based for much of the time near the east coast town of Batticaloa, up to 80 of the crew were landed daily to assist in pumping out wells, building temporary shelters and working with other aid agencies.

    The ship's helicopter crew also discovered a small village called Kallar which was cut off by the wave and this became a second focus for activity. Here ship's work parties cleaned and restocked the village hospital. Led by the medical officers, this was completed before the focus moved to reopening the school. Finally, a repair team was helped the local government build a new bridge to improve communications.

    After the intensive disaster relief the ship visited Colombo in Sri Lanka and Mumbai in India and Dubai before resuming her patrol duties in late February. The boarding teams conducted 77 boardings and ship's identity stop checks during 70 days on patrol. As well as the normal cattle and cargo dhows, the ship also found several people-smugglers, a boat which threw bales of what was probably drugs over board and, with other UK military units, was involved in an anti-piracy operation.

    HMS Chatham also worked closely with the newly-formed Yemeni Coast Guard around the port of Aden, where in 1990 the USS Cole was attacked by a terrorist suicide boat.

    Returning through the Red Sea in April, the ship's company provided the coffin bearers and guard at the reburial ceremony of the remains of some Nelsonian sailors found near the Egyptian port of Alexandria. The remains of over 30 sailors, their wives and children who perished at the Battle of the Nile and ensuing land campaign were reburied in the Chatby Commonwealth Cemetery with full military honours. This was followed by the ship's presence at the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, where the Type 22 frigate again landed sailors to march in remembrance, along with other nations who took part. The ship was also honoured to embark HRH the Prince of Wales overnight.

    After the annual dawn service in remembrance of the landings, His Royal Highness returned onboard with the Chief of the Defence Staff and Minister for Veterans to meet the crew. After taking part in the Turkish International Festival of the Sea in Marmaris the ship came back to Devonport via Barcelona and Bordeaux.

    Captain Steve Chick, the Commanding Officer of HMS Chatham said:

    "It has been an extremely busy and varied six months where we have steamed the equivalent of the circumference of the world. The change in our tasking from boarding operations to disaster relief efforts and finally to conduct high-profile ceremonial occasions has really shown the range of abilities of the Royal Navy and I am very proud of the crew and ship for all they have done."


    Hear hear! Bravo Zulu people.

    Le Chevre