UN: Poor accessibility restricts assistance to victims affected by floods

[TamilNet, Thursday, 13 January 2011, 12:05 GMT]
Relief missions continue to experience constraints due to poor accessibility in flood‐affected areas, said United Nations Colombo office Thursday citing initial findings as indicating the need for non-food items and drinking water. The UN's Humanitarian Coordinator Neil Buhne in a statement issued Thursday said: “We share the strong concern over the immediate requirements of over one million affected, especially the most vulnerable including children. He added that UN will also look at the longer term effects from damage to agriculture, infrastructure and housing. Batticaloa has reported the highest number of displaced persons, 165,494 (42,295 families) housed in 275 temporary relocation centers.

Full text of the press statement by the Colombo office of the UN follows:

UN supports flood affected people

Colombo, 13 January 2011 – The United Nations Country Team is supporting the Government of Sri Lanka help over one million people affected by the severe floods caused by torrential rains lashing the country in the last few weeks.

The United Nations Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) Neil Buhne says that the UN team is supporting the Sri Lankan authorities in many ways to respond to growing humanitarian needs.

The UN will launch an appeal for emergency funds in the coming week, to meet the needs of communities. “We are helping the Government to collect information on needs, which will be compiled into a flash appeal, to rally donors to support and expand ongoing national efforts to respond to important needs in flood-affected areas,” Buhne said. “We share the strong concern over the immediate requirements of over one million affected, especially the most vulnerable including children. He added that UN will also look at the longer term effects from damage to agriculture, infrastructure and housing.

According to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), as of 13 January, a total of 1,081,819 persons (287,871 families) have been affected, with 23 deaths and 36 injured. A total of 325,348 persons (83,722 families) are displaced in 591 temporary relocation centers in ten districts. Batticaloa reported the highest number of displaced persons, 165,494 (42,295 families) housed in 275 temporary relocation centers.

The UN system is supporting the Disaster Management Center (DMC) led “rapid assessment of the flood and landslide situation” in 14 affected districts to determine the extent, and location of damages as well as immediate relief needs. Relief missions continue to experience constraints due to poor accessibility in flood‐affected areas. However initial findings indicate the need for non-food items and drinking water. UN agencies continue responding with a wide range of supplies.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing emergency food assistance for some 400,000 flood-affected, totaling almost Rs. 55 million. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has made available fifty water tanks (1,000 liters capacity each), water tablets able to purify two million liters of water, 7,000 tarpaulins, bleaching powder, 7,000 sleeping mats, 3,000 buckets, 30,000 bars of soap and cooking pots as immediate relief assistance. The World Health Program (WHO) is funding the operation of mobile medical clinics by the Ministry of Health. WHO has also supplied 60,000 water purification tablets and is working with the Ministry medical teams to control possible outbreak of disease in affected areas.

The United Nations agencies will continue to assist the Government to respond to immediate needs based on ongoing rapid assessments, and to help communities recover from the impact of the flood once water recedes.


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