UNICEF tackles needs of Sri Lankan flood victims.

More than 300,000 people have been displaced by flooding in eastern Sri Lanka, where water levels in some areas are two metres higher than normal – and still rising.

The intense wet weather last week and four days of non-stop heavy rain since the weekend have turned parts of Sri Lanka into an ever-deepening lake, with land and rock slides in some areas. Crocodiles and snakes are also a threat to anyone considering wading through the floodwaters.

So far a million people have been affected and 23 people have been killed in the floods. "In my 37 years of living in Batticaloa I have never seen anything like this," said Health and Nutrition Officer Kirupairajah Gowriswaran of UNICEF’s Batticaloa Zone Office. "Ninety per cent of the local population is affected. Everyone is occupying whatever buildings they can find on higher ground."

Unfolding emergency

UNICEF has made rapid assessments of the needs of flood-affected families and children. As the floods continue, seven truckloads of UNICEF supplies have arrived in eastern Sri Lanka to aid families living in temporary shelters.

"These supplies will help to ensure families and children have access to safe drinking water and are able to maintain basic levels of hygiene," said UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka, Reza Hossaini. "Understandably, all schools have been adopted as temporary shelters. There are no classes for children."

The supplies include 50 water tanks (1,000 litres each), water tablets to purify 2 million litres, 7,000 tarpaulins, 7,000 sleeping mats, 3,000 buckets and 30,000 bars of soap, as well as chlorine bleaching powder and cooking pots.

This consignment is part of a wider UN effort to support the Government as it provides emergency support to the affected communities. Because most roads are impassable, the Sri Lankan military is using boats to deliver much-needed aid.

"We are liaising closely with the Government and other UN partners," said Mr. Hossaini, "as we continue to monitor the flood conditions and determine how we are best able to assist those whose homes have been flooded."

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