Sri Lanka monsoon floods affect 370,000: UN

GENEVA, December 2, 2008 (AFP) – Monsoon floods in the north of Sri Lanka have affected more than 370,000 people, with 71,000 being displaced, the United Nations said Tuesday. Tamil Tiger guerrillas, who began their struggle for a separate Tamil homeland in 1972, are currently facing the Sri Lankan army’s biggest ever offensive in the north. “The number of affected population has increased as some areas were previously inaccessible and new information is now being received,” said Elisabeth Byrs of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Hardest hit is Jaffna, with 62,000 people displaced and 5,900 houses damaged, she added.

Officials in Sri Lanka said Thursday at least two soldiers had drowned and more than 230,000 civilians driven from their homes in the conflict-scarred north due to the floods and a mini-cyclone.

Sri Lanka depends on monsoon rains for irrigation and power generation, but the seasonal downpours also cause loss of life and damage to property.