Patricia Scotland, the Commonwealth's Secretary-General, today passed on her condolences and sympathies to those killed and made homeless by flooding in Sri Lanka. "This is a real disaster," she stated. "Around 200 people have lost their lives and thousands have been made homeless by the worst torrential rains in more than a decade. I would like to express my sympathy to the families of those who have been killed, and to the thousands more who have lost their homes and livelihoods."
Severe monsoon rains have displaced nearly 600,000 people. Flooding and landslides have destroyed many of the wells that provide safe drinking water. Sri Lankan army trucks have been hauling safe drinking water to those in need. Helicopters have been ferrying medicine and essential supplies to cut-off areas.
"I applaud the work of Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre in coordinating relief operations," continued the Secretary-General. "Commonwealth countries should come to their aid to the greatest extent possible. I note with pride that medical and diving teams from the Indian Navy have already joined rescue efforts and I am sure that other Commonwealth countries will do what they can."
Many of the Commonwealth's small island states are prone to disaster caused by extreme weather. Last December a violent storm in the Caribbean caused damage from St Vincent and the Grenadines to Barbados. In the Pacific, cyclones and floods have caused hardship and damage in Commonwealth countries such as Tuvalu and Nauru.
Although the rains have begun to subside in Sri Lanka, thousands of people are still marooned by the extreme weather. The country now faces a major clean-up operation, and more rain is possible later in the week.