Mass monsoon floods in South Asia a humanitarian crisis, aid group says

By Allen Cone   |   Aug. 18, 2017 at 11:54 AM
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Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Monsoon floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India have combined to become a full humanitarian crisis -- with more than 16 million people affected, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Friday.

"This is fast becoming one of the most serious humanitarian crises this region has seen in many years and urgent action is needed to meet the growing needs of millions of people affected by these devastating floods," Martin Faller, deputy regional director for Asia Pacific, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said.

"Millions of people across Nepal, Bangladesh and India face severe food shortages and disease caused by polluted flood waters."

Another relief organization, Save the Children, said the situation in South Asia is "extremely desperate."

"The sheer volume of water is also making it really difficult to access some of the communities most in need, which is one of our greatest challenges right now," Mark Pierce, the agency's director, said. "Once the floodwaters recede, we know that longer-term support will be critical to help communities fully recover, including getting schools re-opened so children can get back to the safety and routine of the classroom, and supporting farmers to get back on their feet."

In Bangladesh, flood levels have already reached record highs, according to local authorities. Major levels in rivers, like the Jamuna, have surpassed records set in 1988.

"More than one-third of Bangladesh and Nepal have been flooded and we fear the humanitarian crisis will get worse in the days and weeks ahead," Faller said.

Nearly 4 million people have been affected by the rising floodwaters in Bangladesh, the Red Cross said.

Swollen rivers from India are expected to flow into the low-lying and densely populated areas in the north and center of Bangladesh. In northern India, more than 11 million people are affected by floods in four states. In Nepal, villages and communities are stranded without food, water and electricity as many areas remain cut off. About 2 million have been affected in the country.

"This tragic flooding in Nepal has claimed at least 128 lives and 33 people are still missing," said Dev Ratna Dhakhwa, Secretary General of Nepal Red Cross Society.

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