UN Migration Agency Deploys Rapid Assessment Teams to Flood-Hit Southern and Central Sri Lanka

Date Publish: 
Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) today (30/05) deployed three rapid assessment teams to Ratnapura, Galle, Matara and Kalutara – four of the districts worst hit by devastating floods and mudslides in southern and central Sri Lanka.

At least 177 people have been killed by floods and landslides, with 109 people still missing, since heavy rains on Friday, according to Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre (DMC). Most of the deaths were caused by landslides.

Over 768 houses have been destroyed, 5,869 more have been partially damaged and 80,409 people are temporarily displaced in 361 safe locations, according to the government.  Over half of the displaced are located in Rathnapura district, where more rain is forecast today.

Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organization has also issued warnings of further landslides in a number of districts, including Kegalle and Ratnapura, where IOM provided shelter assistance to flood and landslide-affected communities last year.

To date over half a million people in 15 districts in south and central regions of the country have been affected by abnormally heavy monsoon rains in recent weeks.

The flooding is believed to be the worst since May 2003, when a similarly powerful monsoon from the southwest destroyed 10,000 homes and killed 250 people.

When the rain has eased on Sunday and Monday, rescue workers used the break in the weather to deliver much-needed aid to the worst-hit areas. But many villages remain inundated and cut off from basic services.

Rescue operations led by the Sri Lankan military are continuing and the DMC has already identified an urgent need for drinking water and non-food relief items (NFIs), including shelter.

Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry is also deploying mobile health units and will introduce vector control measures to combat expected outbreaks of mosquito-borne dengue fever, which often follows flooding. Displaced people living in emergency shelters are particularly vulnerable.

The Sri Lankan government has appealed for international assistance and, according to media reports, three Indian naval ships carrying relief supplies arrived in Sri Lanka on Saturday and Sunday. China, the United States and Pakistan have also provided assistance.

For more on the displacement caused by the floods please go here.

For more information please contact Giuseppe Crocetti at IOM Sri Lanka, Email: gcrocetti@iom.int, Tel: +94(0)115325300