COLOMBO, 13January 2011– UNICEF supplies packed into seven trucks have arrived in eastern Sri Lanka, to support the million people affected by massive flooding.
Official reports state 23 people have been killed, 36 injured and more than 300,000 displaced by the floods.
UNICEF’s consignment has been handed over to local government officials who are working with the Sri Lankan military in order to distribute badly-needed goods to the displaced.
UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative, Reza Hossaini, said: “In recent years these communities have suffered major blows; many of them have been caught up in years of conflict, in the wake of the 2004 tsunami and now these floods.
“Many families were only just returning home after years of displacement. They were rebuilding their lives, children were returning to their community schools and now they all face this latest severe setback.”
UNICEF has addressed one of the pressing priorities, the need for safe water and hygiene. Its support includes: 50 water tanks (1,000 litres each), water tablets able to purify two million litres of water, 7,000 tarpaulins, chlorine bleaching powder for equipment sterilising, 7,000 sleeping mats, 3,000 buckets, 30,000 bars of soap and cooking pots.
More UNICEF consignments will meet emerging needs. It is planned to send family hygiene kits, thousands of sleeping mats for those displaced and more cooking equipment.
Preceeded by more than a week of intense wet weather, five days of non-stop heavy raining since the weekend have turned part of eastern Sri Lanka into a lake. The Batticaloa and Ampara districts are particularly badly hit.
This consignment of UNICEF support is part of a wider Government and UN effort to support the affected communities. As most roads are impassable by vehicle, the Sri Lankan military is using boats to deliver much-needed aid. The UN is preparing to launch an emergency fund-raising appeal.