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UN to call for aid to help Sri Lanka flood victims

[AP, Saturday, 15 January 2011 11:13 No Comment]

The United Nations said Saturday it will appeal for emergency flood aid for Sri Lanka, where 32 people have died, hundreds of thousands are homeless and vast rice fields ready to be harvested are now under water.

Flooding in the rice fields has disrupted livelihoods of many in the eastern region hardest hit after the heavy rains. The U.N. will issue an appeal in the coming days for money to help replant the fields and compensate people affected, U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Neil Buhne said in a statement late Friday.

"I urge donors to generously support priority needs such as mosquito nets, clean water and food," he said.

U.S. Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis said Saturday that America is providing Sri Lanka US$300,000 worth of flood assistance. The U.S had given boats to evacuate those marooned and donated bottled water, cooking material and tarpaulin, the embassy said in a statement.

Five more people were reported dead Saturday, raising the toll to 32 with 12 others missing, Pradeep Kodippili of the Disaster Management Center said.

Some 23,000 people have left camps set up for flood victims, but nearly 340,000 remain homeless, he said.

As floodwaters slowly receded in the worst-hit Eastern Province, some people in Karaithivu village in eastern Ampara district came out and cleaned their houses for rituals marking the ethnic Tamils’ traditional harvest festival.

Sellaih Rasiah, a community leader in Karaithivu, said villagers affected by the devastating 2004 tsunami have lost most of their belongings and would again have to start anew. Schoolchildren have lost their books and clothes, he said.

The mud-walled hut with a coconut palm roof where Muttumari Jegathisvaran, a 25-year-old laborer, lived was collapsed. All his belongings had been flushed away and the banana trees and vegetable plants in his garden were dead and discolored.

"There is no festival for us. I have no work, no place to live," he said.

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