June, 13, 2021
The recent burning and sinking of the Xpress Pearl is a terrible catastrophe. Renaissance Sri Lanka comes to the rescue of more than 4000 families in the severely affected Sri Lankan fishing communities.
“The ship has dealt a death blow to our lives. We can’t go into the sea which means we can’t make a living.” Joshua Anthony, head of a region fishing union (source: Reuters).
The burning and sinking of a massive container ship spilling high quantities of toxic nitric acid, non-biodegradable plastic pellets into the sea, is the final blow to a country that may not have the strength to survive an unprecedented cumulation of tragedies, that is, if no massive help is provided.
Indeed, Sri Lanka was a star tourism destination, but the Easter bomb attacks in April 2019 that killed more than 250 people, severely hit the country’s international tourism industry. Early in 2020, the Covid-19 crisis brought that recovering tourism industry to a halt and 400 000 Sri Lankans lost their main source of income. A few million others in numerous ancillary industries were equally hit. Inflation and unemployment have been rising ever since the pandemic began, and the Indian variant of the covid-19 is causing an unprecedented number of deaths, and fatalities are now increasing exponentially, with intensive care units working at full capacity. Clearly, a few weeks ago, Sri Lanka was struggling to survive. The recent Xpress Pearl incident, the country’s worst ever environmental disaster adds to this tragic national situation. It has blocked a large area of the polluted coastal waters from any fishing activities, on an 80 km stretch. The ship’s chemical cargo spillage has immensely added to the plight of this small country, with a possible oil spill looming at large.
Renaissance Sri Lanka will distribute kits composed of food and basic necessities to the estimated 4000 fishing community families who are no longer able to fish and are therefore totally deprived of income, and also to all the other families dependent on the fishing industry. Indeed, in addition to the directly hit fishing community, 28 other industries are indirectly hit: wholesale and retail vendors, seafood processing and export industries, storage and transport services. The once flourishing resort industry on this stretch is worse hit in addition to the pandemic restrictions.
Ashinsa Bopearachchi Cavalié, President of Renaissance Sri Lanka, declared: “We decided to launch a campaign to help the families hit by the pollution of fishing waters by the X-Press Pearl cargo ship.”
Neville Weerasinghe, co-founder, added “Renaissance Sri Lanka will work with our numerous partners in Sri Lanka to distribute this aid efficiently and quickly. We already successfully distributed food packs to victims of the covid-19 related economic crisis.”
What is needed now is an international wave of solidarity for Sri Lanka and the families that depend on fishing. Renaissance Sri Lanka stands by to mobilize donations and channel assistance fast.