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Floods in Sri Lanka kill 15 people and force four million children out of classrooms

Floods and landslides in Sri Lanka have killed at least 15[1] people, including two children, and forced schools across the island nation to shut as the seasonal monsoon intensified over the weekend, said Save the Children.
04 June 2024

A 3 year-old-child drowned and an 11-year-old child was buried alive in a mudslide, according to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), as the rains reach record levels in parts of the country.  

With 20 of the country’s 25 districts affected since the monsoon rains began, all schools have closed, putting learning out of reach for some four million children.[2] About 4,000[3] homes are damaged, according to the country’s Disaster Management Centre.

Save the Children staff have reported that canals in the capital were overflowing, with crocodiles seen lurking in the waterways. Electricity in up to five districts has also been cut off as a precautionary measure to avoid electrical shocks in flooded areas.

The monsoon rains began two weeks ago, but intensified over the weekend, leading to a record 400 millimetres of rain in parts of the country which has led to floods and landslides.

While monsoon rains are normal in Sri Lanka, impacts such as flooding are now more frequent and severe due to climate change, with school closures demonstrating the unique impacts of the climate crisis on children, Save the Children said.

Julian Chellappah, Country Director for Save the Children in Sri Lanka, said: 

“This intense destruction and disruption could bring huge long-term damage to children’s lives. A combination of the pandemic and economic crisis has affected children's education, with an increase in school dropouts.
 
“What we have seen this weekend is an example of how extreme weather events, made more frequent and severe due to climate change, are destroying children’s rights: disrupting their learning, ruining their homes, and even causing death. For some families, disasters like this could leave them with absolutely nothing.” 
 
Save the Children in Sri Lanka has been supporting communities in Colombo, Ratnapura and Badulla to prepare for the monsoon rains by cleaning canals and blocked waterways. It has also provided canoes to communities and has trained first aid teams.

Save the Children is supporting the government's response efforts and is preparing to provide essential items to children and families in the affected areas.

Save the Children has been working in Sri Lanka since 1974 to ensure children stay safe, healthy and educated. In 2023, the charity reached more than 340,000 people including 177,000 children across 15 districts in the country, ensuring children have nutritious food at school, improving access to protection services for children at risk of abuse, and providing cash grants for the most vulnerable families.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au.

Notes to Editors: 

[1] http://www.dmc.gov.lk/images/dmcreports/Situation_Report_on_2024__1717316728.pdf.
[2] https://moe.gov.lk/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/School_Census-2021_Summary-Tables-Final-Report1.pdf.
[3] https://www.adaderana.lk/news.php?nid=99612.

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