Christians in Sri Lanka rebuild their lives after mudslides and floods destroyed homes FeaturedWritten by Michael Ireland
By Michael Ireland, Senior Reporter, ASSIST News Service
(ANS-HALDUMULLA, SRI LANKA, Jan.19, 2015)--Torrential rains over the Christmas period in Sri Lanka have left over 60,000 people without homes and livelihoods after severe mudslides and floods struck the island, Barnabas Aid (www.barnabasfund.org) reports. According to the Disaster Management Center, at least 39 people were killed after they were trapped under rubble. Across the island, over 3,000 homes were destroyed and at least a million people have been affected.
Barnabas Fund says that more than Christians in Sri Lanka are rebuilding their lives after mudslides and floods destroyed homes. 60,000 people have lost their homes and their livelihoods as a result of the floods and mudslides.
The tea-growing Badulla district is the worst affected area, where at least nine people were killed in mudslides on December 26. Earlier, at least 38 people died in mudslides that struck on October 29 in Haldumulla, also in the Badulla district. In a slide that began at 7.30am and lasted 10 minutes, over 300 people were reported missing and 75 children who were in school at the time, lost their parents in the tragedy.
Those affected by the mudslides are mostly tea plantation workers, many of whom are Christians of Indian Tamil origin. Discriminated against for their ethnicity and their faith, these Christians live in extreme poverty on the slopes of the tea plantation areas. Barnabas Fund's local partner organisations in Sri Lanka report that over 31,000 Christians were affected by the floods and landslides, many of whom have lost their livelihoods as well as their homes.
Flooding and mudslides in Sri Lanka have affected over a million people in recent weeks, including 31,000 already-marginalised Christians.
With the horrific weather conditions that struck over the Christmas and New Year period, there is now a great need for water purification and hygiene intervention as drinking water sources have been contaminated by the flood water and mud, sparking fears of potential outbreaks of diarrhoea and dengue in some communities. Barnabas partner organizations in Sri Lanka say that food rations and livelihood recovery measures are another top priority. Now returning to school, children are in need of school stationery packs, and churches desperately require Bibles, hymn books and floor mats after the rains destroyed so much.
Barnabas Fund's Regional Coordinator for South Asia, Jude Simion, says: "Due to the recent elections and with the political changes in the country, disaster relief and planning for mitigating the aftermath of disaster interventions are lacking in Sri Lanka's welfare system. The country has gone through several natural disasters and due to lack of planning, corruption and discrimination, the poor Christian communities are the most vulnerable and continue to suffer in Sri Lanka."