Five Years After Tsunami, Many Still Without Shelter

Amantha Perera at

KALMUNAI, Sri Lanka, (IPS) – “We have been here for almost five years. So many promises have been made, but very few have been kept,” complains Mohideen Nafia, 22, one of the survivors of the 2004 Asian tsunami still living in a temporary facility in the coastal town of Kalmunai, located 300 kilometres east of the capital, Colombo.

Newly married Nafia would have preferred a house of her own with her husband. But at the moment she has to make do with what amounts to a shelter, a one-room unit in a government-provided disaster camp, which the couple shares with Nafia’s family of five and is located about one kilometre from the beach.

Nafia hails from the Sainathimaruthu village in Kalmunai, a major domestic fishing hub that bore the brunt of what has been touted as one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Three of its villages facing the sea — Maradamunai, Sainathimaruthu and Karathivu — suffered the heaviest damage at the time of the tsunami.

When the Asian tsunami, triggered by a 9.3-magnitude earthquake, hit the coasts of countries bordering the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26, 2004, hundreds of thousands of people across Asia were washed away at sea…