Flood aid for Lanka: Poor global response

  • Govt and UN office to make fresh appeal to international donors
By Leon Berenger and Yasasmin Kaviratne

The appeal by the United Nations (UN) for $51 million (Rs 5.6 billion) in flood aid has had a poor response from the donor countries with Sri Lanka receiving just 27 percent of the total package, a top official said yesterday.

Acting UN Resident Representative Adnan Khan told the Sunday Times that so far they had received some $10.5 million (Rs. 1.1 billion) with another US$ 3 million Rs 333 million in the pipeline.

He said the poor response could be attributed to one or more factors such as the thinking of the donor countries at this time and the nature and size of their respective budgets.His remarks came as the UN in Colombo said it would revise upwards the US$ 51 million aid request in the aftermath of the devastation caused by the second wave of floods.

“Some countries may have higher priorities on their agendas and Sri Lanka could probably be down the line. The donors may also be examining the gravity of the situation before deciding to help towards this end. However, we are optimistic that the donors will have a re-think on the matter following the second wave of flooding in less than a month,” Mr. Khan said.Flood aid for. He said the UN and the Government would make a fresh appeal to the donors at the earliest and discussions on this issue were held with Treasury Secretary P.B.Jayasundara on Friday.

When asked if the poor response could be attributed to a political or diplomatic factor, Mr. Khan said, “humanitarian assistance is need based, and not otherwise.” He said a fresh assessment of the current situation was being made before making the new appeal.

The United States is the only country that had provided direct aid in the form of 6000 tents for the second round of flooding, Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.

During the first flooding at the beginning of the year several countries including, China, India, Italy, Japan and S. Korea, had provided direct material aid, he said. The US government has provided US$ 1.1 million in immediate assistance in response to the floods.

The estimated damage caused by the second deluge was around Rs 50 billion, the minister said adding that the Government intends to allocate another Rs 35 billion for reconstruction in the affected areas.

The Government has also called on ministries to channel any unspent funds from their budgets to the reconstruction effort. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has given orders to scale down tamashas and entertainment events that were to be held on the sidelines during the upcoming Cricket World Cup and divert such funds towards the flood relief efforts.

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