Death toll reaches 146 more rain expected this week

The Government meanwhile said schools in the affected areas will remain closed this week. The United Nations office in Colombo said that Sri Lanka had made a formal request for support following the onset of the monsoon and its impact in the Southern and Western regions of the country.The adverse weather conditions have caused flooding and landslides in 14 out of 25 district in Sri Lanka; Batticaloa, Colombo, Galle, Gampaha, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matale, Matara, Mulaitivu, Ratnapura, Trincomalee and Vavuniya. The most severely impacted district is Galle, where 128,047 people (32,215 families) have reportedly been affected. Fatalities have been reported in Gampaha, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura districts.The Tri-Forces and Police have been mobilized for Search and Rescue and evacuations operations in Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara and Matara districts.UN agencies are currently supporting the government’s relief efforts in coordination and mobilizing resources. Landslide warnings were issued for several areas and the public were told to evacuate if rain continues for the next 24 hours. The death toll from the floods and landslides reached 146 today with more rain expected this week.The Disaster Management Centre said that 112 people are missing and over one million people have been affected by the disaster. Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast to continue into the first week of June, raising the risk that current conditions may worsen with land access to many affected areas restricted due to water inundation and landslides. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Senior UN officials pledge Organizations support to Central Asian region

“The UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) is an important part of this picture,” Mr. Eliasson said in his opening remarks to a high-level meeting on the world body’s efforts in the region, which was held on the margins of the General Assembly’s annual general debate that opened on Monday and wraps up on 1 October. The UNRCCA is a special political mission established by the world body in 2007 at the initiative of the Governments of the five Central Asian countries – Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Headquartered in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, the Centre serves as a platform for dialogue and exchange of views among the countries of the region.It promotes dialogue between the governments in finding solutions for emerging problems and eliminating potential threats; keeps regular contacts with international organizations, operating in the region, to stimulate their peace-making efforts and initiatives; and cooperates with other UN agencies working in the field of sustainable development and conflict prevention. “The Centre has made valuable contributions to finding solutions to Central Asia’s challenges, in particular issues related to the sharing of water and energy resources, as well as counter-terrorism,” Mr. Eliasson said, urging cooperation on water to avoid conflict and telling participants that the UN stands ready to help “hydro-diplomacy” reach acceptable solutions.He also said that while the Central Asian region is understandably apprehensive about the possible impact of the security and civilian transitions in Afghanistan that are expected to be completed next year with the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the UN will continue to support an environment conducive to peace in Afghanistan, including through technical assistance for next year’s elections. “We will also continue collaborative efforts to tackle the illicit economy and counter the cross-border trade in narcotics and precursors to improve security in Afghanistan and throughout the region,” Mr. Eliasson said, adding that the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UNRCCA will also continue to promote regional cooperation on trade, transport, energy and infrastructure.In a statement issued by his spokesperson at the conclusion of the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the holding of the meeting, which featured the participation of the countries of the region, as well as his Special Representative for Central Asia and Head of UNRCCA, Miroslav Jenca, and the Assistant Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Cihan Sultanoðlu. Water scarcity and the fight against terrorism in Central Asia featured prominently in the statement delivered to the General Assembly today by Erlan Abdyldayev, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan. He said his country’s main strategic resource – water – was under serious pressure due to global warming.“Kyrgyzstan’s glaciers have shrunk by 30 per cent. According to preliminary expert forecasts, unless urgent measures are taken, there will be practically no glaciers and snowfields on the country’s territory by the year 2100; and these melting waters are the primary source of the rivers of Central Asia,” he said.Mr. Abdyldayev said it is important that the international financial and ecological organizations continue to assist the countries of Central Asia in addressing this problem. Such assistance is particularly important in the transition to a sustainable use of both water and natural ecosystem resources. The development of hydro-energy is strategically important for the sustainable socio-economic development of the region. “We are confident that this will contribute to an integrated solution of many current and future challenges.”On terrorism, extremism and other transborder threats such as drug trafficking, he said these issues are most acute in the region because of the current situation in Afghanistan. “Despite some progress in advancing the political process in Afghanistan, there is still a threat to stability and security in the country,” he said, underscoring Afghan drug production as fuelling a full range of threats.“We believe that in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and other security challenges generating from Afghanistan, regional organizations that have proven to be effective should now be more involved,” Mr. Abdyldayev said, noting in particular the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.He said that it is also important to involve Afghanistan in the development of regional cooperation and implementation of major joint socio-economic and infrastructural projects such as the export of electricity, and the creation of road and railroad communications. read more