Sri Lanka’s worst flooding in years has impacted almost 500,000 people, many of them children. UNICEF is reaching the most vulnerable communities with clean water and safe shelters.
Thousands of children and families have been forced from their homes after flash floods and landslides hit south-west Sri Lanka on May 25. While parts of the country still face drought, some regions have been inundated with up to 500mm of rain.
Many communities in the worst-affected regions were urged to evacuate, yet 169 people have been confirmed dead and 112 are still missing.
In every disaster, children suffer the most. This emergency has already displaced thousands of children from their homes, exposed them to deadly water-borne diseases and disrupted their education. UNICEF is monitoring the impact on children and delivering pre-positioned stocks of water and sanitation supplies to keep children safe.
12-year-old Ishara will never forget the day her home flooded.
“It rained the whole day and I was returning from a class in the evening when the river was filling up the road,” she says. “My mother was at home with my baby sister and I asked her what to do. She said we would have to leave the house if the waters come.”
By the evening, roads around Ishara’s house were completely submerged. They had to flee.
“We went to a house on a higher ground, but water reached there, then we still climbed higher and water reached there too.” When they finally returned home days later, everything in the house was caked with mud.
“The clothes, our beds, pots and pans, everything was gone with the water. All my school books were gone and my school uniform and the school shoes I recently bought.”
“I want to go back to school. I don’t know if they’ve started school,” she says between sobs. “I hope this never happens again to anybody."
How UNICEF is helping
UNICEF is working with the Sri Lankan government and our partners to:
- Reach 500,000 people with clean water by repairing damaged infrastructure and delivering water purification tablets.
- Keep children safe from water-borne diseases with information about hygiene and supplies of soap.
- Repair and restock 110,000 health centres that were damaged by the floods and landslides.
- Set up 200 temporary child-friendly spaces to keep children living in camps away from danger.
- Help kids get back to school by repairing 50 damaged buildings and replacing lost furniture, books and toys.
- Reunite separated children with their parents.
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