Asian monsoon rains force millions to flee

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Monsoon rains in Cambodia last month.

Torrential monsoon rains for the past 11 days have inundated parts of Southeast Asia, heavily flooding areas of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh and affecting over 20 million people.

An estimated 1,400 have been killed across the region, as waterborne diseases have proliferated and become highly virulent in the humid and wet conditions.

The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, is currently providing relief to affected areas.



In the Northern Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, as many as 12.5 million people have been displaced or affected by flooding. Clashes with police in Bihar have left 20 villagers injured and one man dead, since many are staging protests after being forced from their homes. UNICEF estimates as many as 1,103 may have died in 138 districts throughout northern India.

Hospitals are reaching dangerous volumes as disease is sickening thousands. Many are ill from dehydration, exposure and dysentery.

Aid workers warn that malaria is a serious risk.

The Indian Air Force began dropping aid packages containing medical supplies and food yesterday.

Santosh Mishra, a villager in the Gondra district of Uttar Pradesh remarked, "I have not seen such flooding in the last 24 years." Bodies of two students of the IIM Indore swept in the flash floods in Indore were recovered.



UNICEF reported that 84 people have died and some 270,000 people have been displaced by floods and landslides in 32 districts in the last two weeks. Flood waters this year have remained stationary, and are not flowing as in the past, they also said. This could lead to landslides and further damage to thousands of poorly constructed adobe homes. Thousands of acres of agricultural land have already been destroyed.

Clean water, is a primary concern, as much of the water has been contaminated with disease.



Flooding has affected 41 of its 64 districts. The Associate Press reports that over 5 million have been displaced and that 46 have died.

The capital, Dhaka, has seen some flooding, but officials fear that soon the city will be completely inundated since torrential rains show no sign of abating.

Relief efforts

UNICEF is working with the governments of affected nations to coordinate aid, providing water purification tablets, emergency medical supplies, and various MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat). The Nepalese ministry of finance has released additional funds for continued aid work.

The conditions in the region do not seem promising, since more rain is forecast Saturday, and early next week.