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Half a million affected by floods, UN steps in

world Updated: May 22, 2010 19:08 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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Agencies of the United Nations have stepped in to assist the Sri Lanka government’s efforts provide relief over 500,000 people affected by floods and landslides triggered by this week’s torrential showers.

At least 20 have died, government officials have said, adding that more than 513,000 people or 118,888 families had been affected.

"The UN World Food Programme will provide food for 400,000 of the affected people to supplement rations being distributed by the Sri Lankan Government, according to a situation report jointly prepared by the country’s Disaster Management Centre and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)," an UN statement said.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided water tanks, more than 80,000 water purification tablets, soap and other sanitary items. The agency has also made available 3,000 packs of high-energy biscuits for distribution to those affected.

"For the past one week, heavy pre-monsoon rainfall, accompanied by strong winds, has caused flash floods that have affected 14 of Sri Lanka’s 25 districts, including the capital, Colombo," the statement said.

The feeder bands (stormy peripheral clouds) of the cyclone Laila compounded the impact.

The Sri Lankan navy has responded by deploying teams in boats to assist with evacuations and delivery of relief, while the army has been assisting in transporting supplies to affected areas where access has been cut off.

On Friday, a Government-led inter-agency flood assessment mission, which included officials from WFP and OCHA, visited Kalutara district in South-Western province, a day after visiting Gampaha district in North-Western Province. The two districts are among the worst affected and have recorded large numbers of displaced people and heavy damage to property.