The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is responding to catastrophic flooding and mudslides in Sri Lanka, the result of the worst storms to hit the island nation since 2003. JDC, together with its local partner Sarvodaya, a Buddhist-inspired humanitarian organization, deployed its first responder unit to provide food, water, and other emergency aid in Sri Lanka’s five hardest hit districts, including the Galle and Kalutara districts on the coast where JDC worked extensively after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. The first responders are reaching beleaguered Sri Lankans by via road and boat where necessary. As a result of the unprecedented rains, more than 500,000 people have been displaced and more than 150 killed in the last 48 hours. Donations can be made at: www.jdc.org/srilankarelief
“We mourn the loss of life in Sri Lanka, and are working to ensure that desperately needed assistance is delivered to survivors who have lost so much in this disaster,” said JDC CEO David M. Schizer. “As the Jewish community gathers to celebrate Shavuot, commemorating the commandments we received on Mount Sinai, we honor our tradition and its value for human life by joining with our Sri Lankan partners to save lives and carry forward a shared commitment to compassion in the face of adversity.”
JDC has a twelve year history working in Sri Lanka. The Sarvodaya–JDC Disaster Management Unit, currently carrying out relief missions, was established by JDC and Sarvodaya in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami when the two organizations partnered to ensure immediate aid for Tsunami survivors. The disaster management unit – created to provide quick and efficient responses to crises in a country and region regularly hit by natural disasters – is made up of a fully equipped and trained team of first responders. Since the 2004 Tsunami, the unit has responded to dozens of disasters in Sri Lanka.
JDC’s disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC.
JDC coordinates its relief activities with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the Israeli government, Interaction, and the United Nations, as well as local and international partners.