Friday, 15 August 2008

where do you get your summer cotton from?

According to an unpublished paper by University of Sussex economists, Sri Lanka could soon see a 4% drop in its clothing exports to Europe and an overall 2% drop in its GDP if it loses the trade concession known as 'GSP Plus', The Economist reports. In English, that means the poor will get poorer.

Awarded in 2005 to help rebuild the country after the devastating 2004 Tsunami, the GSP Plus is a preferential tariff agreement between Sri Lankan exporters and the EU. But strict EU rules on human rights, environmental and labour standards mean that the agreement is unlikely to be renewed after it expires this year, and Sri Lanka will suffer even more as a result.

With inflation already around 30% p.a., Sri Lanka cannot afford to re-house all its refugees (both war and Tsunami survivors) and fight a civil war at the same time, yet the fighting with the Tamil Tigers [LTTE] continues. Up to 75,000 people have fled their homes in northern Sri Lanka in the last two and a half months, according to a UN report [BBC News].

Where will all these people live? Europe cannot complain about migrating refugees and asylum seekers while we are effectively tying their hands against their own development.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government has thrown out journalists from the war-torn areas, and is clamping down on visas for international NGO workers, accusing organisations like Save the Children of funding the Tamil Tigers. [Tamil Eelam News Services]

So if humanitarian aid organisations are not allowed to help, and our governments won't, how will all those homeless families, including the elderly, widowed women and orphaned children survive?

The Church can help.

[Image: 'Batticaloa' March 2,2005 by e.r.g.o]

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