Flood victims accusing Sri Lankan officials of holding back aid briefly besieged a village government office Monday as the crisis that has affected more than one million people dragged on.
More than 1,000 people surrounded the office in the village of Ariyampathy in Batticaloa district. They broke windows and held the office staff indoors until police intervened.
Residents said they found that relief goods for nearly 4,000 people — including rice, flour, milk powder, tents and stoves — had not yet been distributed. The protesters dispersed after police promised the goods would be distributed.
Floods and mudslides over the past several days have killed 40 people and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless. Four people are reported missing.
More than one million people have been affected, with vast farmlands ready for cultivation under water and flocks of cattle, goats and poultry lost, depriving many of their livelihoods.
With waters largely receding, many displaced people left relief camps and classes resumed at schools that had been temporary shelters.
About 58,000 people of more than 300,000 displaced at the peak of the disaster remained in camps Monday. But some complained they were asked to leave the camps when they had nowhere to go with their houses destroyed.
A top United Nations official will visit Wednesday to assess the flood damage, the world body said Monday.
Catherine Bragg, the assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, will visit the flood-hit areas and launch an appeal for funds to help victims, the UN said in a statement.
She also will visit areas where hundreds of thousands of civilians have resettled after being displaced in the country's civil war
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Red Cross called on authorities to make sure there is food available to people in flood-affected communities.
"I know we will get through this devastation, but what concerns us the most is what happens after," said Jagath Abeysinghe, president of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society.
"That’s why we are more concern about a possible food shortage and health issues that could rise in the aftermath of the floods. We need to prepare for that."