Message just in from UNITED SIKHS project Leader in South India, Esher Singh in Port Blair ( Andaman Islands):
"By Guruji's Grace we have been able to get on a flight to Campbell Bay (Nicobar island). We fly out first thing tomorrow morning.
"The Sikhs we met at Port Blair, who had managed to leave Nicobar Island, have not been taken care of. All the local relief camps are full. The administration has stopped shipping victims. The air force ships and planes have stopped taking people since yesterday. The situation is very grim. Rest we will update later.
Tomorrow, Sikh organisations will be making the first contact with Nicobar Sikhs since the Tsunami disaster on 26th December 2004.
We do not have a satellite phone. Therefore, we will not be making contact with you until we return to the mainland. But have no fear we will be in Chardi Kala."
PORT BLAIR, Andaman Islands, SE
India - After assessing the situation in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, and
providing short term relief operations in the neglected villages in the
South India, UNITED SIKHS' South India team makes a
breakthrough and will fly to Campbell Bay, Great Nicobar Island, tomorrow
to assess the situation and provide relief in the Andaman & Nicobar
Islands in the Indian Ocean. See Team Leaders detailed
report at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/ghanaia/fieldreport.html
UNITED SIKHS will be joined by
Ravinder Singh of Khalsa Aid and Kulwant Singh of Sri Guru Gobibnd Singh Study
Circle (Bombay). The Trio who are heading for Campbell Bay tomorrow had to fight
tooth and nail for tomorrow's flight. After spending half a day at Port
Blair, the team found out that Campbell Bay, where a lot of damage has
occurred, is accessible only through the army or air force. It is 300 nautical
miles from Port Blair. It takes 2-3 days for a boat to get from Port Blair to
Campbell Bay. According to their findings,
there is only one flight that transports relief material to Campbell Bay
and the flight could take only one person along. There were 5 organizations
including UNITED SIKHS negotiating access. There was also no assurance
of a return date. Most flight seats are being used by MPs,
MLAs and government officials. Ultimately, in Bhai Esher Singh's
words, "The Guru made way" for his servers and all three members of the
team were able to get tickets through a private arrangement with the Civil
Aviation Authority which will take them to
- to the center of the
Tsunami destruction, which is merely 60km from the epicentre of the Tsunami in
There are more than 350 Sikh
families in Campbell Bay out of which approx 70-75
have disappeared. Some families have come to Port Blair and are putting up in a
gurdwara where there isn't enough care available. The administrators from the
affected areas have already moved to Port Blair.
The initial assessment of Bhai Esher Singh
and his teammates upon reaching Port Blair yesterday is that there is extreme
shortage of relief supplies in the islands which have restricted access to them.
The team has found that government
administrators are still in confusion and limited in their efforts to get relief
to victims in a timely manner. He
added that the Port Blair got its first relief flight 70 hrs after the
disaster and people are in bad shape. The relief camps at Port Blair were full
and they met few families who were crying; they had lost everything and yet
they were refused to be admitted in the camp since it was full.
In Bhai Esher Singh's words "The officials'
attitude here is unhelpful. The people who came here have not been taken care
of. All the local relief camps are full. The administration has stopped shipping
victims in Andaman and Nicobar. The air force ships and planes have stopped
taking people since yesterday. The situation is very grim"
Whilst UNITED SIKHS Project leader
Esher Singh has headed for the next mission on the islands, the rest of the
Team works in a coordinated effort with other Sikh groups, to deliver immediate
services to victims without duplicating effort and expenditures.
Bhai Esher Singh and his UNITED SIKHS team had by now been phenomenal in
banding up with other Sikh organizations, providing short term relief in 4
villages in Cuddalore, adopting one village and starting rehabilitation work
there. The trip to Campbell Bay was on cards from the beginning, as UNITED
SIKHS relief efforts are targetted at neglected pockets of people to
provide them not only short term relief but also long term projects for
re-building their lives.
UNITED SIKHS will update
you as we receive reports. for Relief Team updates see: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/ghanaia/fieldreport.html
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FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE
GHANAIA TSUNAMI PROJECT,
transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed
and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal
development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic
SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to
establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues - whether social,
cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our
villages, towns and cities.
SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision
based on the belief that there is no greater endeavor than to serve, empower and
uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to
civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.
UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfill its mission not only by informing, educating
and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and
political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are
realized by all.
at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive
societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a
commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and
achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.