An island state in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is regularly affected by seasonal floods and landslides. In May 2016, Tropical Storm Roanu caused flooding and landslides in 22 out of 25 districts. Over 90 people were killed and damages and losses exceed $570 million.? In December 2018, over 75,000 people in the Northern Province were affected by flooding, while 156 houses were damaged. At least 9,455 people from five districts in northeast Sri Lanka were displaced because of the floods.? 

Less frequent but more severe hazards include cyclones, droughts, and tsunamis. In 2018, drought affected some 890,000 people in 17 districts, with Puttalam, Anuradhapura, Mannar, and Mullaitivu the worst affected.? 

At least 62,000 Sri Lanka refugees live in India’s Tamil Nadu state, although the figure could be as high as 100,000 people. In October 2018, some 4,000 of the refugees registered to return to Sri Lanka.? 

For 2019, INFORM rated Sri Lanka’s risk of humanitarian crisis as medium, at 3.6/10.?

Latest Developments

16/05: In recent days, Sri Lanka has experienced an escalation of violent attacks targeting the country’s Muslim community. Gangs of armed men have destroyed a large number of Muslim-owned businesses, houses, and a local mosque. At least one person has been killed in the violence. The attacks are reportedly in retaliation for a series of bombings that occurred on 21 April which targeted churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka, killing approximately 250 people. More than 1,100 refugees and asylum seekers from Pakistan remain displaced after being evicted from their homes in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Most are currently staying in mosques, community centres and police stations in Colombo and Negombo. Shelter, health, and WASH needs have been reported among the displaced population.?

Key figures

  • 890,000 people affected by drought in 2018  [?]
  • 75,000 people affected by floods in December 2018  [?]