A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
International agency Oxfam today urged donors to contribute generously to the aid efforts in Sri Lanka. The UN Flash Appeal, to be officially launched later today, will support the Government’s response to the massive floods that have affected the eastern and central parts of the country.
Significant humanitarian needs are emerging as people return to their homes from the welfare camps, with cases of respiratory disease and diarrhoea being reported from the flood-affected areas. One million people were affected by the disaster with crops and homes damaged by the flood water.
The UN appeal, estimated to be $51 million, will cover the needs of the affected population for the next six months.
Thusitha Siriwardana, Oxfam’s Campaign Manager in Sri Lanka, said:
“The floods are the worst natural disaster here since the 2004 tsunami and there will be enormous challenges ahead. Hopefully, the UN appeal will help donors grasp the magnitude of this crisis. The appeal will focus on the emergency needs of people - food, water and sanitation and health issues, but we would urge donors to address the longer-term too.
“People are returning home to devastation. They are discovering homes still submerged under water and rice fields damaged. For many people this is the second or third time they have been displaced. They need help to recover and to ensure that they are better prepared for similar disasters in the future.”
Oxfam has been assisting families in the worst flood-affected districts in the Eastern and North Central Provinces of Sri Lanka with basic items including food and water. Oxfam will soon be scaling up its response to support more than 120,000 people in the country.
Shanthikumar, 45, from Vinayapuram village in Ampara District, told Oxfam:
“Things were difficult when the water came. We had to spend a week in the camp. Even now, there is knee-deep water in my house and we have trouble accessing the toilet facilities. It’s difficult to find clean water for drinking. My paddy fields are still under water and I am worried about what I’ll feed my children. I’m tired of moving so often. Most of my life I’ve spent outside my home as a result of the tsunami and the conflict.”
Notes to editors
Photos from Sri Lanka are available on request.
Oxfam staff are available for interview on the ground in the affected area.
Oxfam has been supporting projects and partners in Sri Lanka since 1968. Oxfam’s focus, in the country, is on women’s economic and political leadership, livelihoods and economic development, and humanitarian assistance and protection.