Home  >>  Write  >>  News  >>  Tsunami  >>  Sri Lanka


2004 Tsunami Crisis – Impact on Sri Lanka

Other than Indonesia, Sri Lanka was the second hardest hit area by the tsunami.  More than 30,000 people have been killed, thousands more remain missing, and almost a million people have been made homeless mainly in the southern and eastern coastal regions of the country.  The worst affected districts are Jaffna, Kuchaveli, Mullativu, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Hambantota, Matara and Galle. 

Sri Lanka faces a hefty reconstruction bill estimated to be in the range of $1.5 Billion, since its damaged infrastructure was more developed than in many affected areas.  Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, which accounts for about 10% of the nation’s GDP, was particularly hard hit.  About one-fifth of hotels in the region have been put out of action.

Sri Lanka's economy was becoming more and more stable before the tsunami struck, buoyed by optimism surrounding the peace process after a 20-year civil war.  Now, officials predict that their grown will be inhibited by the disaster.  Nevertheless, Sri Lanka’s currency has not suffered thanks to large sums of foreign aid donations. 

Here are some of the tsunami-related stories coming out of Sri Lanka:

- The main story that everybody has kept their eye on is the developing tensions between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels after a ceasefire about three years ago ended a bitter and bloody civil dispute – the dispute was mainly ethnic in origin between the Tamil people and the Singalese, who make up the bulk of Sri Lanka’s population.  This tension has been hampering aid distributions to the Tamil Tiger-controlled north east region of the country.  It was hoped that the disaster would bridge the two sides together, but it now appears that it is making them worse.  One of the problem lies in the control of aid donations, where the Tamil Tigers felt that their region was not receiving enough aid, and have asked for donations to go directly to them, citing the long history of corruption in Sri Lanka’s government.  The Tamil Tigers were also infuriated when the government asked United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, not to visit Tamil-controlled areas citing security issues.         

- In the wake of the tsunami disaster, the Sri Lankan government are propose laws to ban the construction of houses along the coasts.  If the laws are passed, then there will be a 200 meter boundary from the sea imposed.  The President appealed to the people to refrain from renovating, rebuilding or building new houses within the 200-meter limit along the coastline.  There is also a plan to have three-story buildings to help house people who have no homes. 

- Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga wants to adopt a child from the minority Tamil community orphaned by last month's tsunami.  The Tamil Tigers have dismissed the initiative as "inappropriate" and a "token gesture" at a time of calamity for Tamil-speaking areas of Sri Lanka.  The president said that her decision to adopt was intended as a message not just to politicians, but to the whole country about the disproportionate effect the tsunami had had on Sri Lanka's children.

- Child trafficking has emerged as a major problem in the wake of the tsunami that have left many children orphaned.  As a result, Sri Lankan authorities have banned the adoption of children affected by the tsunami until further notice.