Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Red Cross Movement warns of funding gap as fresh flooding affects more than 1 million people

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The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) remains extremely concerned about the humanitarian impact of the recent flooding that has brought devastation and chaos to the eastern, northern and central provinces of Sri Lanka.

Heavy monsoon rains have affected more than 1.2 million people in recent days causing the displacement of over 300,000 people from their homes. As the situation worsens, only 17% of the IFRC's 4.6 million Swiss francs (4.8 million USD, 3.5 million Euros) emergency appeal for the floods has been met.

"This is the third successive wave of flooding since December. We've have had severe rains for at least 48 hours and many of the same families have been hit repeatedly," says Bob McKerrow, head of delegation for the IFRC in Sri Lanka. "Conditions are intolerable; we urgently need donors to step forward so that we can purchase relief materials."

18 of Sri Lanka's 25 districts have been affected in what people describe as the worst floods in the past 100 years. The worst affected districts are Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Polonnaruwa and Ampara. Several reservoirs have overflowed causing extensive flooding of downstream villages with over 15,000 homes reportedly damaged or destroyed.

Displaced families are being housed in more than 744 temporary evacuation centres established by the government in 11 districts across the island. An estimated 300,000 hectares of rice paddy has been destroyed prompting fears of price hikes in the country's staple food.

During these last three months the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SRLCS) has assisted more than 800,000 people. Thousands of Red Cross volunteers have been involved in relief efforts, distributing clothes, mosquito nets, bed sheets, sleeping mats, kaftans, tarpaulins and safe drinking water to affected people.

"It's crucial that we provide these relief items to these people so that they do not become vulnerable to other diseases that could arise after a flood situation like this", says Sri Lanka Red Cross director general, Tissa Abeywickrama.

The IFRC's emergency appeal aims to support the Sri Lanka Red Cross's emergency response and recovery effort which hopes to reach 75,000 families.