Despite the end of the 26-year conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government in May 2009, some humanitarian needs remain.
Most of the people who fled the final stages of the conflict have returned to their places of origin. But they have come back only to find their houses destroyed, fields contaminated with landmines and essential services almost non-existent. Finding food, shelter and sustainable livelihood options are some of the most urgent priorities for the returnees. Exposed to years of violence, returnees also need psychosocial support.
Residual humanitarian needs in the conflict-affected provinces of northern and eastern Sri Lanka are exacerbated by natural disasters including floods, landslides, cyclones and droughts which occur frequently. In recent years, heavy rains have caused widespread damage to crops and infrastructure hampering the efforts of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives after the war.
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is present in Sri Lanka since 1994. The Commission has provided almost € 150 million in humanitarian aid to people affected by conflict and natural disasters.
In 2012, ECHO gave € 4.7 million to help address the needs of war-displaced people. The funds provided food assistance, healthcare, livelihood support, temporary shelters, water and sanitation facilities, de-mining, and protection services.
ECHO supports communities in Sri Lanka to reduce the risks arising from natural disasters. Since 2001, through its disaster risk reduction programme, DIPECHO, it has provided € 7 million to build disaster-resilient infrastructure and set up early warning and flood management systems, among several other initiatives.
Since 2002, ECHO has also assisted Sri Lankan refugees living in over 100 camps spread across the Indian state of Tamil Nadu through food assistance and water and sanitation services.