‘Serious humanitarian crises’ in South Asia as floods affect over 16 million peole

Indian residents wade through flood waters in Balurghat in West Bengal on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 19 August 2017
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‘Serious humanitarian crises’ in South Asia as floods affect over 16 million peole

KATMANDU/GUWAHATI: More than 16 million people have been affected by floods in South Asia, aid workers and officials said, with heavy rains and damaged roads hampering relief efforts amid severe food shortages and a growing risk of waterborne diseases.
Heavy monsoon rains in Nepal, Bangladesh and India have killed more than 343 people, officials and aid workers said.
“This is fast becoming one of the most serious humanitarian crises this region has seen in many years,” said Martin Faller, deputy regional director for Asia Pacific at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
“Millions of people face severe food shortages and disease. We fear (it) will get worse in the days and weeks ahead.”
More than a third of Bangladesh and Nepal have been flooded, Faller said.
In Nepal, 27 of 75 districts were either submerged or hit by landslides, leaving villages and communities stranded without food, water and electricity.
Home Ministry official Shankar Acharya said 131 people had been killed and 30 were missing.
“We need donors’ assistance and support from social organizations,” an official statement said.
Aid workers are rushing to deliver tarpaulins for temporary shelter, food and water, said Dev Ratna Dhakhwa, secretary general of the Nepal Red Cross Society.
Residents face “severe food shortages,” as food crops have been wiped out in the worst floods in 15 years, he said.
The risk of a “significant public health crisis” from waterborne diseases such as cholera is also high, charity WaterAid said.
In Bangladesh, flood levels have reached record highs. At least 56 people have been killed and about 4 million are affected, the Red Crescent said Thursday.
The situation could get worse as swollen rivers carry rainwater from neighboring India downstream into the low-lying and densely populated country.
“The immediate situation is extremely desperate,” Save the Children Director Mark Pierce said in a statement.
“The sheer volume of water is also making it really difficult to access some of the communities most in need.”
In India, more than 11 million people have been affected in four states across the north and east, with at least 156 killed.
“These are the worst floods in Assam in a decade,” Keshab Mahanta, relief and rehabilitation minister, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Relief operations have been hampered, even as food packets are being dropped from helicopters in the worst affected areas.
In a makeshift relief camp in Kaliabor, 160 km east of Guwahati city, families said they had not received any aid.
“We are practically starving, with no government supplies reaching us,” said Arunima Dutta, mother of three, who is sheltering from the disaster with hundreds of others.
Residents are also at risk of contracting diseases such as malaria and Japanese encephalitis, the Red Cross warned.
India’s meteorological department is forecasting more heavy rain for the region in the coming days.
“Though we come to expect these rains every year, this year is particularly severe,” Save the Children India manager Murali Kunduru said.


Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

Updated 20 July 2019
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Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

  • At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week
  • South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season

GAUHATI, India: The death toll in monsoon flooding in South Asia has risen to 152 as millions of people and animals continue to face the brunt in three countries, officials said Saturday.
At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week. A dozen have been killed in Bangladesh.
Shiv Kumar, a government official in Assam, said 10 rare one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park since the Brahmaputra River burst its banks, flooding the reserve.
Some 4.8 million people spread over 3,700 villages across the state are still affected by the floods, though the frequency of rains has decreased in the past 24 hours, the Assam Disaster Response Authority said. More than 2.5 million have also been hit by flooding in India’s Bihar state.
Amid the flooding, 20-year-old Imrana Khatoon delivered her first baby on a boat in floodwaters early Friday while on her way to a hospital in Assam’s flooded Gagalmari village, locals said. The woman and the newborn were brought back to their home without getting to the hospital.
Community health worker Parag Jyoti Das, who visited the family, said there were no post-delivery health complications. However, the mother and the child were moved to a hospital on a boat to the nearby town of Jhargaon because of unhygienic conditions due to floodwaters, Das said. The health center in Khatoon’s village was flooded and closed.
“I would have felt happier if the baby’s father was here,” said Khatoon, whose husband works in a hotel in the southern state of Kerala.
More than 147,000 people have taken shelter in 755 government-run camps across Assam, officials said.
Authorities warned they would take action against suppliers who were reported to be distributing poor quality rice and other essentials to marooned people and inmates of temporary shelters at some places.
“We have ordered the arrest of those unscrupulous elements supplying substandard materials and playing with the lives of the affected people,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s finance minister.
In Nepal, the Home Ministry said about 36,728 families were affected by the monsoon rains. The flooding and mudslides forced some 13,000 families to flee their homes.
In at least two of Nepal’s districts, helicopters were used to transport emergency food supplies, while other transport means were being used to move tents and other supplies to the victims.
South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season.