Following a three-day visit to Sri Lanka, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg committed the UN to continuing its humanitarian work while the needs exist.
“I came to Sri Lanka to assess the current humanitarian situation in the country and it’s my observation that there are significant and immediate humanitarian needs resulting from the recent flooding in the east, as well as the ongoing needs in the former conflict areas of the north.” said Bragg.
During her visit, Bragg met government ministers, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, donors and UN agencies. She travelled to the north of the country where she talked with people who have recently returned home since being released from Government-run camps set up at the end of the conflict in 2009.
“Most of the returnees currently have limited access to basic services such as shelter, water and sanitation and health care. These communities remain extremely vulnerable and have critical humanitarian needs that we must address immediately.” said Bragg.
Bragg also visited the worst flood-affected areas in the east of the country and launched a flash appeal to raise US$ 51 million in emergency funds for the one-million people who are now in need in the Eastern and Central Provinces. She also announced a US$ 6 million contribution from the Central Emergency Response Fund to jump start priority programmes.
During her meetings with government ministers, Bragg reaffirmed the commitment of the UN and NGOs to remaining in Sri Lanka to help the Government, especially in rebuilding the Northern Province.
“We need to continue our humanitarian work and are committed to remaining here and providing humanitarian assistance to all those in need, wherever they are,” said Bragg.
Bragg also highlighted the role of the humanitarian community especially those aid organisations working in the north and stressed that partnerships between UN agencies and local government structures must be strengthened as Sri Lanka moves beyond its years of conflict.