Floods force millions to flee homes in South Asia

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A man looks out of the window of his partially submerged home in flood-hit Kahchin, Myanmar. (Reuters)
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Flood affected villagers row near a submerged house in the flood water in Burha Burhi village east of Gauhati India, Monday, July 15, 2019. (AP)
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Villagers travel on a boat in the flood affected Jhargaon village in Morigaon district of India's Assam state on July 15, 2019. (AFP)
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A member of Nepalese army carrying a child walks along the flooded colony in Kathmandu, Nepal July 12, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 16 July 2019

Floods force millions to flee homes in South Asia

  • Death toll in Nepal and Bangladesh rises to 76 after days of heavy rains

GUWAHATI, India/Katmandu, Nepal : Floods have forced more than four million people from their homes across India, Nepal and Bangladesh and killed more than 100 people as torrential rains in the initial days of monsoons wreaked havoc.
The poor Indian states of Assam and Bihar have been among the worst hit. Some 4.3 million people have been displaced from their homes in Assam in the last 10 days due to rising waters across the mostly rural northeastern region, according to a government release on Monday.
Television channels showed roads and railway lines in Bihar submerged, with people wading through chest-high, churning brown waters, carrying their belongings on their heads.
Floods in South Asia cause mass displacement and deaths annually, and the death toll and damage from the current monsoon season, which has just begun, is likely to increase in coming weeks. Floods in Nepal, India and Bangladesh during the 2017 monsoon https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-floods/floods-landslides-kill-m... killed at least 800 people and destroyed food crops and homes.
An impoverished agrarian province with rickety infrastructure and poor health care services, Bihar has a history of flooding in its northern areas bordering Nepal.
Flood waters in Assam rose overnight with the Brahmaputra River, which flows down from the Himalayas into Bangladesh, and its tributaries still in spate. Most of the Kaziranga National Park, home to the rare one-horned rhino, was underwater, authorities in Assam said, adding that four people drowned on Monday.
“The flood situation has turned very critical with 31 of the 32 districts affected,” Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told reporters. “We are working on a war footing to deal with the flood situation.”

We are working on a war footing to deal with the flood situation

             Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief minister of Assam

Assam, known for its tea industry, is hit by seasonal flooding each year, and the state and federal governments have spent millions of rupees on flood control.
Army and paramilitary personnel have been deployed across the state for rescue and relief operations and makeshift shelter camps have been set up, while the airforce is on standby, Keshab Mahanta, Assam’s water resources minister, told Reuters.
The Indian weather office has forecast widespread rains across Assam and Bihar over the next two days.

LANDSLIDES SWEEP HOMES AWAY
In neighboring Nepal, 64 people were killed and 31 were missing, with around a third of all districts hit by heavy rains, authorities said. Many of the deaths were caused by landslides that swept away houses.
In southeast Nepal, water levels on the Kosi River, which flows into Bihar, had receded, an district official said.
In 2008, the Kosi broke its banks and changed course, inundating huge tracts of land and killing 500 people.
“Our analysis is that the danger is over now that the water level has come down,” Chiranjibi Giri, assistant district administrator of Sunsari district, told Reuters.
In Bangladesh, floods forced an estimated 190,000 people out of their homes, government officials said.
In Cox’s Bazar district, shelter to some 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled violence in neighboring Myanmar, more than 100,000 people have been displaced.
Since early July, flooding and landslides have damaged thousands of shelters at the refugee camps, killing two people, including a child, Human Rights Watch said in a release last week. 


Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

Updated 25 August 2019

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

  • A woman in her 50s accused Ramadan of raping her along with a member of his staff
  • He has been charged in France with raping two women previously

PARIS: Tariq Ramadan, a leading Islamic scholar charged in France with raping two women, has also been accused of taking part in the gang rape of a journalist, French judicial sources said Sunday.
The sources confirmed reports on Europe 1 radio and in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that a woman in her 50s had accused Ramadan, 56, of raping her along with a member of his staff when she went to interview the academic at a hotel in Lyon in May 2014.
The woman, who filed a criminal complaint in May 2019, also accused Ramadan of issuing “threats or acts of intimidation” aimed at dissuading her from reporting the alleged attack to the police, the judicial sources added.
Ramadan, a married father of four whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was a professor at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when rape allegations surfaced at the height of the “Me Too” movement in late 2017.
He has denied charges he raped a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012.
He was taken into custody in February 2018 and held for nine months before being granted bail.
Authorities in Switzerland are also investigating him after receiving a rape complaint in that country.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, refused to comment Sunday on the latest allegations against him in France.
The woman behind the latest complaint told police that Ramadan and a male assistant repeatedly raped her in Ramadan’s room at the Sofitel hotel in Lyon.
She described the alleged attack as being of “untold violence” and claimed that when she threatened to report them to the police Ramadan replied: “You don’t know how powerful I am.”
She also claimed that Ramadan had contacted her via the Messenger app in January, two months after his release from jail, saying that he wanted to make her an “offer” of a “professional nature,” without giving details.