Caritas will help 100,000 people in Sri Lanka as it is hit by its worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami.
Heavy monsoon rains, especially in the three districts of Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Amparai in the East, have affected over a million people. The North and Centre of the country are affected as well. In some areas, even the temporary camps set up for the flood victims have gone under water.
“Some areas are difficult to access and people are trapped there. Rivers are overflowing, dams breaking and the main roads can’t be used. More rain is expected in the next days”, said Fr. George Sigamoney, Secretary General of Caritas Sri Lanka.
Caritas Sri Lanka is currently supporting roughly 75,000 people with cooked meals, safe drinking water and health care.
An appeal will be launched to support 25,000 people in Jaffna, Batticaloa and Trincomalee, Kandy, Badualla and Anuradhapura. They will receive food packages containing rice, flour, dry fish, sugar, soap and other food items.
About 850 families will receive basic shelter materials to set up temporary sheds. Elderly or disabled people and women-headed households will receive the aid as a priority.
Conflict in Sri Lanka continued for nearly 3 decades until May 2009. It displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left a large number of properties damaged. In the North most of the infrastructure was totally destroyed.
Caritas rehabilitation programmes in former war zones included appropriate shelter with proper water and sanitation facilities for families who have lost their homes and livelihood facilities for war-affected families.
“In the North East hundreds of farmers had started to cultivate their fields again after the war. But these efforts are turning to be futile as the rains continue to lash the rice growing areas. A lot of houses from our shelter programs have been damaged in the floods as well,” said Fr. Sigamoney.
Fr. Sigamoney is also worried about the effect the floods will have on food prices.
“Thousands of acres of rice fields ready for harvest within the next few weeks have been ruined. Throughout the country, this will lead to shortages and make the prices explode. The poor will find it even more difficult to afford the most basic food items”, he said.
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