Sri Lanka: one million driven from homes or land

Monday, January 17, 2011

Members of aid and development network ACT Alliance have sent just over US $240,000 in funds for partner organisations in Trincomalee and Batticaloa. ACT’s Sri Lankan member, the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, is preparing widespread food programmes and other forms of aid.

Christian Aid, another ACT member, describes the scale of the floods in the east as enormous. Brian Martin, CA's country manager, says the widespread damage to crops and housing will require long-term development assistance.

Among the emergency relief goods requested by Sri Lanka’s disaster management centre are 5.3 million water purification tablets, half a million sleeping mats and 850,000 plastic cup and plate sets, reflecting the extent of the disaster.

The BBC reports that even camps set up to house the displaced have been flooded. Rain is still falling and water levels are rising - with many towns and villages completely cut off. Army, navy, police and air force personnel are battling to provide urgent aid to people hit by the heavy flooding.

The torrential downpours and life-threatening floods are a further assault for residents of eastern Sri Lanka, who have endured both a civil war and a tsunami in recent years.

ACT supporting survivors

The immediate relief contribution of US$ 240,000 is an interim contribution until a major appeal is prepared, in which donors will be asked for further assistance.

Churches associated with ACT member the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka plan to host 1600 families at church premises in the district of Batticaloa.  Here they will provide people with two days' worth of cooked meals that have been prepared in local kitchens set up and monitored by church volunteers.

They will distribute dry rations comprising rice, soya meat, tinned fish, dhal and other foods to just over 4000 families, and provide infants and children with boiled water. Hygiene kits of soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and sanitary towels will also be provided, as will sanitation facilities for women and for the people with special needs. In some locations, the NCCSL will build temporary toilets.

Sri Lanka’s weather office reports that the bad weather with heavy rains and strong winds will continue over the next three or four days in eastern, north-central, northern, and central provinces and in the Uva and Hambanthota regions.

The government has put out an urgent request for assistance from international and national aid agencies. The World Food Programme will provide emergency food assistance for some 400,000 flood victims to support the government's relief efforts. A stock of 735 metric tons of food will be distributed in Sri Lanka's eastern province, while 105 metric tons of food had been distributed in the last four days, the country's national radio station reported yesterday.