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Thousands of children affected by Sri Lanka flood disaster

5 June 2017
After what is being called the worst flooding since 2003, thousands of children and their families remain in evacuation shelters where the need for ongoing health, protection and hygiene support remains critical.

Plan International delivers sanitation and hygiene supplies for displaced families
Plan International delivers sanitation and hygiene supplies for displaced families

COLOMBO – Global child rights and humanitarian organisation Plan International has begun the urgent distribution of sanitation and hygiene supplies for thousands of children affected by the severe flooding and landslides that hit Sri Lanka this week.

Days of monsoon rains impacted the west coast of the country, claiming the lives of over 200 people, including 44 children, and affecting more than 630,000 people.

Impact on children

“More than 189,000 children have been affected by the floods, many of whom lost their homes and are trying to emotionally process the events that have taken place this week.  

We know from experience that children suffer the most in a disaster

“We know from experience that children suffer the most in a disaster, so as we continue to support communities impacted by the floods, it is absolutely critical that we address and prioritise the needs of children, particularly girls,” says Siân Platt, Acting Country Director for Plan International in Sri Lanka.

Plan International is working with local partners to distribute humanitarian services and support to families, including hygiene kits, baby clothes, sanitary kits, first aid materials and cleaning supplies. Plan International is also educating communities about personal hygiene and adequate waste removal in order to prevent the spread of disease and water-borne illnesses.

Children use their new school supplies in temporary shelter in Ratnapura district
Children use their new school supplies in temporary shelter in Ratnapura district

Plan International’s initial response will reach nearly 4,000 people in the most-affected district of Rathnapura.

Plans are in place to scale-up the organisation’s humanitarian assistance by appealing for more funds and providing longer-term support. 

Back-to-school campaigns

With a portion of schools set to re-open on June 5, Plan International is scaling up back-to-school efforts for 2,000 children in 72 schools through the distribution of school kits (including backpacks and learning materials) and counselling support for affected children.

“We are glad that so many schools are able to open their doors so quickly, but are mindful that many more remain damaged and closed. A major priority will be to ensure that all children are able to resume their education as soon as it is safe to do so.

A major priority will be to ensure that all children are able to resume their education

“Education plays a critical role in helping children – particularly those who were displaced and experienced trauma and loss – regain a sense of normality in their lives, in a safe and secure environment.

“Flood waters are starting to recede, and we want to help children and families get back on track as quickly as possible. We know that the monsoon season has just begun and more rainfall is imminent, which is why we must work swiftly and effectively to ensure communities are prepared, alert and able to minimise their personal risk as much as possible,” said Platt.

Learn more about Plan International's work in Sri Lanka

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