» 08/07/2007, 00.00
Monsoon floods: over 1600 dead throughout the region
India is the worst hit with 1258 victims. Catholic Relief Service rush to supply tents, drinking water and food. Alarm for pressing sanitation crisis: high risk of epidemic outbreaks among homeless, forced to live in unhygienic conditions.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – There is desperate need for food and drinking water for the flood survivors of South Asia, submerged by the heaviest monsoon rainfall of the last decade.
In the last month alone over 25 million people have been affected by flooding in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Among them Save the Children estimates that over 10 million are children in need of aid. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), alongside local partners are rushing to get aid through, but a week on from the disaster still cannot reach the most remote areas.
To date the death toll has reached 1600, 1,258 in India alone. Bihar is the worst affected area with over 11.5 left homeless, together with Assam in the north. Chief Minister, Manoj Srivastava, reports that over 6 thousand villages are submerged by floodwaters. CRS, together with Caritas India, is on the round in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, where in that last 4 weeks it has distributed food, water and hygiene kits to over 50 thousand families. The economic loss due to the floods is estimated to stand at 12.68 billion Rupees (313 million dollars).
In Bangladesh the death toll has risen to 282 and 9 million homeless, 4 million of whom are still awaiting aid.
In Nepal a third of the district is submerged by water and in particular the border area with India. The floods have destroyed homes, crops and entire herds. Since June at least 9 people have died.
CRS is also active in Pakistan, where it distributes water and tents in Sindh and Balochistan provinces. The Catholic organisation is providing 50 thousand litres of drinking water a day and building latrines, with the aid of the local population.
But currently the biggest alarm throughout the region remains the sanitation crises: dysentery, skin disease and other infections caused by a lack of clean water and the terrible hygiene conditions of the homeless contribute to the growing fear of an epidemic.
Caritas: South Asia still helpless from flooding
Caritas Internationalis yesterday issued a press release on the current situation in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. After the monsoon rains it is still an emergency. Some 1,800 people have died, a number bound to rise.
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In his Angelus today Benedict XVI invites the faithful to "detach themselves from material goods" and undertake "a journey towards the heavenly heights". He also turns his thoughts to the numerous victims of the floods in South Asia, urging the Christian community to lend their "prayers and concrete help".
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As the death toll rises and the government rejects foreign aid, Fr Arturo Speziale, PIME, writes from Manikgonj describing the pain local residents are going through, their extreme need for food, and also their fear of losing income during the rainy season. At the end, readers can find out how they can help.
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