Updated: December 22, 2015 05:45 PM GMT
Children from families displaced by the war and living in camps pose with their Christmas presents. (ucanews.com photo)
After 30 years of civil war, Mary Stella, a widowed mother, and her three children now face another Christmas of hardship as floods wreak havoc in northern Sri Lanka.
"Our houses are under water," Stella said. "I don't really have presents for my children and relatives. We only ask God for strength to face the difficulties."
"My younger son asked for a Christmas tree but it costs more than 3,000 rupees (US$21) so I will just use a tree branch to make him happy," she said.
Inter-monsoon season low-pressure areas have caused heavy November — December rains.
Over 140,000 people in many parts of the country have been affected by floods, according to the Disaster Management Center, but the northern area is worst affected.
"Our villagers like to buy new clothes for children, whitewash their houses, let off fireworks and enjoy time with families but everybody is affected by floods this year," Stella explained.
The civil war between the Sri Lankan government and Liberation of Tamil Tiger Eelam rebel group lasted from 1983 until 2009.
Yet hundreds of war-affected families still live in temporary shelters constructed from tin sheets and palm leaf roofs.
"In 1996 my husband was shot dead by the army while he was working in a paddy field and since then we have lived in camps," K. Irudayarani, 35, told ucanews.com.
"My vegetable plot and hens have now also been destroyed by floods but there is no assistance from the government," she said.
"An Indian government project is building a new house for us but it is still incomplete," she explained.
R. Ketheeswaran, district secretary of Mullaitivu, told ucanews.com that nearly 2,000 local people were affected by the floods.
"We provided three days worth of cooked food for the victims who moved to the camps. We also gave dried food for another week after they returned home," Ketheeswaran said.
Charity Sister Nicola Emmanuel, who runs a program for war widows, said that hundreds of displaced people were suffering greatly.
"They live in low lying areas and the wells that they have dug for drinking water have caved in because of the floods," she said.
"They are on the verge of becoming homeless again and risk becoming victims of starvation."
"However, we will help them celebrate the birth of Jesus who came to feed the hungry, the starving, homeless, naked and in prison so that they will enjoy the blessings of the birth of Jesus," Sister Emmanuel said.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.