Sri Lanka tsunami survivors still struggle to recover

GALLE, Sri Lanka, Dec 25, 2007 (AFP) – Graft and renewed fighting has blocked relief to Sri Lanka’s tsunami survivors with less than a fifth of money pledged properly accounted for three years later, according to watchdogs. Sri Lanka’s government claims success in rebuilding homes destroyed by the disaster, but international agencies say big problems remain.

Huge amounts of foreign cash that poured in did not reach its intended destination.

While the authorities claim they built more houses than required, many people still live in makeshift dwellings for reasons ranging from poor building standards to fighting in areas where the new homes are located.

“I don’t know where the aid money was spent, but we are still living in this wooden house,” said Nalini de Soysa, 53, while standing outside her single room house in Galle 112 kilometres (72 miles) south of Colombo.

Some 31,000 people died and one million were left homeless after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Sri Lanka said it got 3.2 billion dollars in foreign aid pledges to rebuild the devastated coastlines.

But out of the promised money only 1.2 billion dollars was actually received, the government says.

From that only 634 million dollars — les