UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said he was “deeply concerned” by the devastating impact caused by Cyclone Mora in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and pledged the world body’s commitment in scaling up support to the government-led response efforts in both the countries.
According to Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre (DMC), the country is combating floods and mudslides in the wake of tropical Cyclone Mora, while the UN Migration Agency has deployed three rapid assessment teams to the most affected districts, where 202 people have died and 94 still remain missing.
“The United Nations stands ready to scale up its support to the government-led response efforts in both countries,” according to a statement used by Guterres spokesman.
The Secretary-General will also be reaching out to the permanent representatives of both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The Sri Lankan government has appealed for international assistance and three Indian naval ships carrying relief supplies arrived in Sri Lanka over the weekend.
The Indian contingent of more than 300 navy personnel was assisting in the relief, with divers searching the brackish waters and medical teams seeing patients in makeshift tents set up at shelters.
China, the US and Pakistan have also provided assistance.
Since heavy rains on Friday, most of the deaths were caused by landslides.
In a press statement, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) maintained that while its teams travelled to the four worst-hit districts of Ratnapura, Galle, Matara and Kalutara –- in the south and centre of the country -– the government indicated that over 768 houses have been destroyed and 5,869 partially damaged while 80,409 people were temporarily displaced to 361 safe locations.
More than half of the displaced people are located in Rathnapura district, where more rain is forecast.
The cyclone made landfall in Bangladesh yesterday, where some 2.8 million people have been affected and more than 500 shelters have been opened.
Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) also issued warnings of further landslides in a number of districts, including Kegalle and Ratnapura, where IOM provided shelter assistance to flood and landslide-affected communities last year.
In recent weeks, over half a million people in 15 districts of the country’s south and central regions have been affected by abnormally heavy monsoon rains.
The flooding is believed to be the worst since May 2003, when a similarly powerful monsoon from the southwest destroyed 10,000 homes and killed 250 people, according to IOM.
“When the rain has eased on Sunday and Monday, rescue workers used the break in the weather to deliver much-needed aid to the worst-hit areas. But many villages remain inundated and cut off from basic services,” said the UN’s migration agency.
Rescue operations led by the Sri Lankan military are continuing and the DMC has already identified an urgent need for drinking water and non-food relief items, including shelter.
Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry is also deploying mobile health units and will introduce vector control measures to combat expected outbreaks of mosquito-borne dengue fever, which often follows flooding. Displaced people living in emergency shelters are particularly vulnerable.