07/06/2017, 16.38
NEPAL
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As floods and landslides kill 15, displace thousands, Christians play crucial role in rescue

by Christopher Sharma

Saptari is the most affected district in southern Nepal. Floods were made worse by an embankment on the Indian side of the border. Caritas hands out food, clothing and medicines. There is a danger of disease outbreaks.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Like every year, Nepal has been pummelled by heavy monsoon rains. This year, at least 15 people have died in southern Nepal and thousands more have been displaced due to flooding and landslides.

The ground cannot absorb all the water due to an “embankment built by India near the border (with Nepal), which prevents flooding on its side of the border,” said Krishna Bahadur Katuwal, chief district officer in Saptari, the most affected area.

In view of the emergency, Caritas set off immediately to bring relief to victims without distinction of belief. "We are giving support to people in need without discrimination. We are helping people of every faith,” said Caritas Nepal director Fr Silas Bogati.

Katuwal noted that "many densely populated areas, including Bhediya and Mayanakaredi, are completely underwater. Small cottages and goods are floating on the water. More than a hundred families have been displaced. Cattle has been swept away and people no longer have food and clothes."

“We will continue to bring relief to the victims according to our resources and availability," Fr Bogati explained. At present, "we are distributing food, clothes and medicines,” said Prakash Khadka, a volunteer.

Given the nature of the land, the water coming from the mountains should flow into the flatlands of southern Nepal, where they would be absorbed in the ground. This is not the case however because of an embankment built by India. So, the water ends up accumulating and submerging houses.

"I have three children and my wife is pregnant,” said Ram Jivan Yadav, one of the survivors. “We have not had a normal meal for the past five days. We survive only through the support of rescue organisations. We are Hindu, but Christians are giving us protection."

Another victim, Kusuni Devi, said "I lost all my belongings and my home was flooded. I escaped and now many of us are afraid of diseases that might break out."

In fact, the most vulnerable groups of the population – small children, pregnant women and the elderly – are already starting to get sick.

“The problem is across the country,” said Central Disaster Management director Binod Parajuli. “We have a very limited capacity. Christian and non-governmental organisations are helping us. We have also asked the government to intervene with India to minimise losses."

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