Floods Displace Hundreds of Thousands in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by flooding in eastern and central Sri Lanka. Water levels in some areas are two meters higher than usual – and still rising. Crocodiles and snakes are a threat to anyone walking through the floodwaters.

Salvation Army personnel are working with government officials to determine specific needs. Salvationists are already providing meals at some of the relocation camps and offering basic assistance to people in the affected areas near Salvation Army centers.

The Salvation Army International Headquarters (IHQ) has launched an appeal for funds to assist the relief efforts. IHQ has sent an initial US$20,000 to The Salvation Army in Sri Lanka. A member of the International Emergency Services team is travelling to Sri Lanka to provide assessment and planning support.

The United Nations Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported that more than a million people have been affected. At least 27 people have died with many more injured. More than 325,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. They are accommodated at 493 temporary relocation centers in eight districts.

On the eastern side of Sri Lanka the district of Batticaloa, with 122,047 internally displaced persons, remains one of the most affected areas. The number of displaced people may increase as there are some areas where access has not been gained because of flooded roads and mudslides. Many areas are only accessible by boat and military helicopters.

Preceded by more than a week of intense wet weather, four days of non-stop heavy rain from 9 January have turned a portion of Sri Lanka into an ever-deepening lake. Some reservoirs have burst their banks destroying rice paddy fields. More heavy rain is expected in these areas during the next 36 hours.