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NEWS RELEASE: Operation USA Appeals for Funds to Aid Humanitarian Crisis in Sri Lanka

By • Jan 28th, 2009

FOR IMMMEDIATE RELEASE

OPERATION USA APPEALS FOR FUNDS TO AID HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN SRI LANKA

ORGANIZATION JOINS GLOBAL RELIEF COMMUNITY IN CALLING FOR IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO CONFLICT ZONES FOR HUMANITARIAN WORKERS

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 28, 2009)—Los Angeles-based international relief agency Operation USA is calling for donations to provide critical aid to civilians left vulnerable in Sri Lanka due to intensified fighting between the Sri Lankan Security Forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). More than 230,000 civilians are currently trapped by fighting in a 250 square-kilometer area in the Northeast of the country.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands of wounded are overwhelming understaffed and ill-equipped medical facilities in Sri Lanka’s northern Vanni region. Food, fuel and medical supplies remain in short supply. Operation USA is working to send critical medical supplies to the area.

Included in Operation USA’s appeal is a demand that the UN, IRCR and international NGOs have immediate access for humanitarian workers. “On top of the lack of resources to assist the hundreds of thousands in need, access to the conflict zone has been blocked by government action,” said Richard Walden, President and CEO, Operation USA.

This escalated fighting has exacerbated an already serious humanitarian crisis in the region. Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans are displaced across the island due to war past and present and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Violence first erupted in 1983. Since then, some 70,000 people have been killed in fighting between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels who want an independent state in the north and east of the island. Landmines and explosive debris have left large areas uninhabitable. The fighting has also laid waste to agricultural land, contributing to child malnutrition.

Every part of Sri Lanka felt the effects of the Tsunami. For an island with a total population of roughly 20.7 million, 30,957 were reported dead, 15,196 were injured, 5,644 were reported missing, 78,407 homes were destroyed, 396,170 people were displaced and 896 children are orphaned. Operation USA worked in the immediate aftermath to rebuild and continues to support long-term recovery, education, health and nutrition projects with local partners.

HOW TO HELP: Donate online at www.opusa.org, by phone at 1.800.678.7255 or, by check made out to Operation USA, 3617 Hayden Ave, Suite A, Culver City, CA 90232. Please specify “Sri Lanka” in the notes section.

Corporate contributions of essential products in bulk and with at least one year’s remaining shelf life can be arranged by calling Neil Frame, Operation USA, 310.838.3455.

About Operation USA
Operation USA is an international relief agency that helps communities at home and abroad overcome the effects of disasters, disease and endemic poverty by providing privately-funded relief, reconstruction and development aid. Since 1979, the Los Angeles-based Operation USA has worked in 99 countries, delivering over $300 million for relief and development projects.

Learn more at www.opusa.org.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:
Operation USA is one of the only US NGOs (privately funded) that has been working in conflict zones of Northeast Sri Lanka since the early 90s and remains committed to this population.

Nimmi Gowrinathan, South Asia Programs Director, is based in New York and is available for interviews. Gowrinathan has just returned from a 4-week trip to the region, and is in regular contact with people on the ground who are directing the relief efforts. Video footage is also available.

Media Contact:
Nimmi Gowrinathan
Director, South Asia Programs, Operation USA
310.721.6930 cell, 646.475.5112 office or ngowrinathan@www.opusa.org

Alison Deknatel, Director of Communications, Operation USA
310.838.3455 or adeknatel@www.opusa.org

Richard Walden, President and CEO, Operation USA
310.838.3455 or rwalden@www.opusa.org

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