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Floods affect 16 million in Nepal, Bangladesh and India: Red Cross

The International Federation of Red Cross has said that more than 16 million people in Nepal, Bangladesh and India have been affected by monsoon floods.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2017 20:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
monsoon floods,India,Nepal
Medical officials of the Jhargaon Public Health Centre travel in a boat to a medical camp in flood-affected Morigaon district in India's northeastern Assam state on August 18, 2017. At least 221 people have died and more than 1.5 million have been displaced by monsoon floods across India, Nepal and Bangladesh, officials have said. (AFP)

A humanitarian crisis is unfolding across large areas of South Asia, with more than 16 million people affected by monsoon floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in statement in Kathmandu on 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,” said Martin Faller, deputy regional director for Asia Pacific, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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

A medical official distributes medicine to children in the flood-affected Sagolikota area of Morigaon district in India's northeastern Assam state on August 18, 2017. ( AFP )

Flood levels have already reached record highs in Bangladesh, according to local authorities. Flooding of major rivers such as the Jamuna has surpassed levels since 1988 - the deadliest floods Bangladesh ever faced.

“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.

In Nepal, many areas remain cut off after the most recent floods and landslides on August 11 and 12. Villages and communities are stranded without food, water and electricity.

Children rest in a makeshift tent set up along a road in flood-affected Purnia district of Bihar state on August 18, 2017. ( AFP )

“This tragic flooding in Nepal has claimed at least 128 lives and 33 people are still missing,” said Dev Ratna Dhakhwa, secretary general of the Nepal Red Cross Society.

Red Cross is providing aid to people, including tarpaulins for temporary shelter, food and water.

Food crops have been wiped out by the floods in Nepal’s major farming and agricultural lands in the south of the country. “We fear that this destruction will lead to severe food shortages,” Dhakhwa said.

In India, more than 11 million people have been affected by floods in four states across the country’s north. India's meteorological department is forecasting more heavy rain in the coming days. Volunteers from Indian Red Cross and Bangladesh Red Crescent are working non-stop along with local authorities to help communities be safe and prepare for worsening floods.

Youngsters stand on a narrow strip of land surrounded by floodwaters in Purnia district of Bihar state on August 18, 2017. ( AFP )

The IFRC has released millions of dollars in late July to support the immediate needs of 25,000 of the worst affected people in eastern Bangladesh, India and Nepal. With the full picture of needs still emerging, this support may increase in the coming days, it said.

In Bangladesh, floods are likely to get worse as swollen rivers from India pour into the low-lying and densely populated areas in the north and center of the country. Over 3.9 million people have been affected by the rising flood waters.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 19:33 IST