Deputy United Nations Humanitarian Chief Catherine Bragg on Thursday commended Sri Lankan government’s for the progress it had made in meeting the needs of the displaced from the recent floods and promoting return processes.
While calling for greater efforts to assist former internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka who have returned to their villages and are facing daunting challenges trying to rebuild their lives, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, on the second day of her three-day visit said “Significant progress has been made in meeting the needs of the displaced and promoting return processes.”
“However, those who have been released [from camps] now face a daily struggle to rebuild their lives, and have to start from scratch,” said Ms. Bragg, who is also the UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator. “There is nothing left. They are going to need schools and teachers, hospitals and doctors, and basic social services,” she added.
In the north, she went to Theravil in Mullaitivu District, which was recently cleared of landmines, enabling former residents to return and begin rebuilding their lives.
During Ms. Bragg’s visit, aid organizations expressed their wish to help address the range of physical, social and psychosocial needs of the returnees.
“We are here to support them. It is good that the Government has invested significantly in infrastructure, but this should be combined with investing in the people as well,” said Ms. Bragg.
She then travelled to Batticaloa in the flood-ravaged eastern province where she heard from local government and aid organizations about the extent of the damage, especially in the agricultural sector, which has lost an estimated 80 per cent of this season’s harvest in some areas.
Ms. Bragg also launched a Flash Appeal for the flood emergency. The appeal seeks $51 million to meet the immediate needs of one million people affected by the floods for the next six months.
She announced that a $6 million grant from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has been allocated to jumpstart key life-saving projects.