Australia to help restore schools destroyed by floods in Sri Lanka

Report
from Government of Australia
Published on 27 May 2003
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA 03 031 27 May 2003

I am pleased to announce Australia will provide UNICEF with $400,000 to help in the rebuilding of basic social services, including schools, in communities affected by the recent devastating floods. This follows an earlier contribution by Australia of $100,000 to the Sri Lanka Red Cross for immediate flood relief in the form of food, medical supplies, clean drinking water and shelter.

The Australian Government is deeply concerned at the devastation and loss of life caused by the flooding and landslides and expresses its sympathy to the many communities and families who have suffered loss.

I conveyed this message directly to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, the Hon Ranil Wickremasinghe, during my visit to Sri Lanka on Monday.

Through UNICEF the additional Australian funding will support 40 schools destroyed in the floods which swept across the districts of Ratnapura, Hambantota, Matara and Galle in the center and south of the country.

It will be used to restore water and sanitation facilities and to buy equipment such as furniture, blackboards, chalk and learning material for classrooms, school kits and material for school uniforms.

This assistance will help return a measure of normalcy to the lives of 8,000 children who witnessed the worst floods in the country in over half a century. More than 260 people died in the disaster, 500 are still unaccounted for and 173,000 families have been displaced.

The floodwaters are subsiding in most districts but other areas remain inaccessible. There is concern for coastal areas as the floodwaters move downstream. There is still a high risk of more landslides

UNICEF is working closely with Sri Lankan officials, determining areas of greatest need and providing emergency and recovery assistance.

Contacts:

Chris Kenny (Minister's office) (02) 6277 7500 or 0419 206 890
Jo Elsom (AusAID) 02 6206 4960 or 0412 804 489