Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 18 August 2017 — A humanitarian crisis is unfolding across large areas in South Asia, with more than 16 million people affected by monsoon floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India.
“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,” Mr Faller said.
Flood levels have already reached record highs in Bangladesh, according to local authorities. Flooding of major rivers such as the Jamuna has surpassed levels set in 1988 – the deadliest floods the country has 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,” Mr Faller said.
In Nepal, many areas remain cut off after the most recent destructive floods and landslides, on 11 and 12 August. Villages and communities are stranded without food, water and electricity.
“This tragic flooding in Nepal has claimed at least 128 lives and 33 people are still missing,” said Dev Ratna Dhakhwa, Secretary General, Nepal Red Cross Society.
“More than 500 Nepal Red Cross volunteers are racing 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,” Mr Dhakhwa added.
IFRC has released 500,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the response efforts of the Nepal Red Cross. With the full picture of needs still emerging, this support may increase in the coming days.
In Bangladesh, floods are likely to get much worse as swollen rivers from India pour into the low-lying and densely populated areas in the north and centre of the country. Over 3.9 million people have been affected by the rising flood waters.
In India over 11 million people are affected by floods in four states across the north of the country. India’s meteorological department is forecasting more heavy rain for the region in the coming days.
Volunteers from Indian Red Cross and Bangladesh Red Crescent are working non-stop alongside local authorities to help their communities be safe and prepare for worsening floods.
IFRC released just over 320,000 Swiss Francs from its DREF in late July to support the immediate needs of 25,000 of the worst affected people in eastern India over three months.
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