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Mobile Legal Clinics Travel to Tsunami Survivors

Mobile Legal Clinics Travel to Tsunami Survivors in Sri Lanka

15 March, Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Mobile documentation clinics for tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka will offer free legal advice and assistance in obtaining personal legal papers that were lost in the December disaster. These mobile service camps to address the legal needs of families affected by the tsunami will be held 18-20 March in the District of Ampara, one of the hardest hit coastal areas of the country. These roving facilities are organized by the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration in Sri Lanka in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) .

The clinics will respond to the thousands of people who lost important documents such as identifications cards, marriage certificates, deeds to property or school diplomas. The teams will include relevant officials who will travel to the affected areas with all the necessary equipment to directly record requests for replacement documentation.

“The mobile teams will spare tsunami survivors the cost and time of having to travel to Colombo to get vital documents,” says Christine Spoerel, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Sri Lanka. “They have been through enough turmoil. We want to help them get easier access to vital personal papers and legal advice. Recovery and reconstruction include more than building houses and infrastructure. Communities also need the ways and means to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.”

The first in a series of mobile clinics, conducted as part of UNDP’s Equal Access to Justice project, was launched in mid-February in the Hambantota District. Nearly 10,000 people were assisted, and 20,000 justice-related requests were recorded. Those are now in the process of being verified or new documentation has already been issued.

The majority of requests were for National Identity Cards, according to Viveka Siriwardene De Silva, the National Coordinator of the project. “The clinics proved to be a huge success. The numbers that sought services exceeded the original estimates,” said Ms. De Silva.

The legal help and advice will be offered from representatives of the Department of Registration of Persons, the Registrar General’s Department, the Departments of Police, Motor Traffic, Labour, Pensions, and Examinations, and the Ministry of Finance. The teams will also include officials from the Legal Aid Commission, the Legal Aid Foundation, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Department of Immigration and Emigration, and the Human Rights Commission. The clinics will be held in the Divisional Secretariat Divisions of Kalmunai (Tamil), Kalmunai (Muslim) Sainthamaruthu, and Karativu.


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