Finding shelter a challenging task

lanslideFinding suitable locations for shelter for the flood-hit people in the densely populated Colombo and Gampaha is a “challenging” task, according to a UN agency.

In its first “situation report”, which covered events up to May 22, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) mentioned that “a sizeable segment of the flood affected population are squatters living in vulnerable areas prone to frequent flooding. Therefore transitional shelter arrangements maybe required until suitable land is identified for relocation.”

According to the Sri Lanka government’s Disaster Management Centre, 506 houses were fully damaged and 4,005 partially damaged. Colombo and Gampaha accounted for 32 fully damaged houses and 117 partially damaged ones. In Colombo, there are still about 1.23 lakh people at relief camps and in Gampaha, nearly 46,000 persons.

As for people in landslide-hit areas, the OCHA pointed out that people would not be able return to their places of origin because of “ongoing threat from further landslides. There is therefore a need for longer term alternative shelter options.”

In Aranayaka, hit by a major landslide a week ago, seven more bodies were recovered, taking the toll to 39 and that of the Kegalle district to 57. As of now, 92 persons died all over the country due to the latest round of natural disaster, and 109 people are missing. .

Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake was quoted in a local daily as saying that the previous week’s storm cost the country $2 billion. (The Hindu)

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