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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 04.50 GMT

Consider flood relief an essential service - President


President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (11 Jan) instructed Essential Services Commissioner General to gather all available resources to help the people affected by flood.

Helping the flood affected should be regarded as an essential service from now onwards, the President said during an emergency meeting held at Temple Trees with the Ministry Secretaries and Essential Services Commission officials.

The President said the people in the flood hit areas are desperately in need of assistance for food, medicine and shelter.

Especially, food and medicine should reach the victims without delay or failure, President stressed.

All the Ministers and their Secretaries were asked to act collectively to help the affected. The Security Forces have also been called upon to assist the relief measures.

Batticaloa, Ampara, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, Nuwara Eliya, Moneragala, Kandy, Badulla and Kegalle districts were the worst hit by floods.

The Health Ministry will keep its Disaster Management Unit (DMU) open 24 hours until the flood recedes.

Children under 5 years and mothers pregnant for more than 36 weeks will be admitted to the nearest State hospital in flood affected areas immediately as a precautionary measure.

According to Health Ministry sources, the Ministry’s Medical Supplies Division (MSD) will also be kept open 24 hours during the same period. Arrangements have been made to transport patients in critical condition by helicopters. Typhoid injections too have been dispatched to all affected areas. Mobile health clinics have also been organized in affected areas.

The Ministry has given priority to three main requirements of the flood victims. They are providing safe sanitary facilities immediately, preventing any possible outbreak of epidemics and ensuring food safety. The Ministry sent five medical teams to flood affected districts Monday and epidemiologists have also been sent.

The Ministry sent 75 PHIs to Ampara and 45 to Polonnaruwa to look after health issues of the flood victims.

According to the figures released today by the Disaster Management Center (DMC) 863,773 people from 228,076 families have been affected by the floods and earth slips while 127,598 of them have been displaced from their homes and sheltered in 351 camps set up by the government.

Island wide 13 deaths have been reported with seven deaths from landslides in the Central hills and another 44 people have been injured. One person has been reported missing.

The United Nations said Tuesday it is assisting the government with humanitarian assessment to identify the needs of the flood affected.

At the noon briefing, Martin Nesirky, the Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said initial area assessments have been conducted in the past 24 hours in several affected districts.

Preliminary findings include assistance needed in the areas of food, non-food items, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

The UN Humanitarian Country Team has assisted Disaster Management Centre to carry out an assessment on Tuesday across all affected districts in the East, North and Central Provinces.

According to Nesirky, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are also all active on the ground to provide relief to the affected.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that the WFP has re-allocated funds to support the government's aid efforts, and will provide 735 metric tons of food assistance to feed approximately 400,000 of those affected.

The UNICEF has been delivering water tanks and taps to the eastern region since the beginning of the flooding and is supporting further assessments, the UN informed.






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Last modified: January 12, 2011.

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