Relief Groups Offer Assistance to Post-Tsunami-Hit Regions

International relief agencies have launched relief operations in the post-tsunami-hit regions of Sri Lanka after monsoon rains flooded the country around a week ago, damaging many shelters.

Heavy rains over six consecutive days in Sri Lanka, starting from Nov. 19, have caused widespread flooding in at least ten districts across the country, according to a relief report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

At least six people were killed in the flood so far, according to official figures released by Reuters. Three of them died in the capital Colombo, two when a rain-weakened wall collapsed, while most of the other dead appeared to have drowned trying to swim to safety, assistant director of the National Disaster Management G.M. Gunawardena said to Reuters.

World Vision in Sri Lanka, which is working in many parts of the country to deliver aids to flood victims, reported that a total of 500,000 people in the north-east, western and southern provinces were displaced, according to their latest report.

The organization has distributed lunch packets and cooked food items to a total of over 7,000 displaced families in six districts, including Colombo, Killinochchi, Jaffna Kalutara, Puttalum, Gampaha and Vavuniya.

In Mattakuliya (Colombo) alone, about 3,000 families received food packs containing a meal, tea, sugar, margarine and jam, World Vision in Sri Lanka reported.

Even though injuries and deaths are not very high in the flood, one of the most serious problems is that the tsunami survivors who were living in transitional shelters are among those affected by floods, according to World Vision in Sri Lanka. Approximately around 5,000 families in the north-east Sri Lanka have been evacuated and shifted to nearby schools on the higher ground after the flood.

According to Agence France Presse (AFP), the northern area of Sri Lanka where tsunami survivors live is controlled by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The rebel has been fighting for independence for the Hindu Tamil minority in the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese Sri Lanka.

The Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), a relief group working in the rebel-held area, has been collaborating efforts with World Vision in Sri Lanka to assist the victims in the flood, according to World Vision’s report. TRO has undertaken distribution of food items to 716 families staying at three schools in Killinochchi, while World Vision is providing kitchen utensils and other equipment for cooking purposes.

Laurence Christy, planning director of the TRO told AFP that camps housing tsunami survivors had been built in low-lying jungle areas, which is why they had been flooded. While people are relocated to some schools, Christy said, "We don't like people living in the schools, it is a problem. We may have to find alternative accommodation for them."

Penny Brune, head of the United Nations Children’s Fund in Kilinochchi, which has been involved in rehabilitating tsunami survivors, pointed out the major difficulty in delivering aid. Brune said many villages have been cut off by the flooding, according to AFP.

World Vision also echoed that the greatest difficulty faced by relief teams is accessing roads flooded in five to six feet of water.