Red Cross calls for urgent aid as South Asia floods affect 41 mn

Hundreds of thousands of flood-affected people across Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan are struggling to survive in the aftermath of the worst flooding to hit the region in decades, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said on Tuesday.

Millions of people “are struggling across South Asia after their homes have been damaged or destroyed. Whole villages have been swept away. We have a responsibility to help,” the IFRC said in the statement, citing its Deputy Regional Director for Asia Pacific Martin Faller.

Over 41 million people have been affected by the South Asia flood disaster, it said, adding mud huts have disintegrated in the torrents of water that have flooded large areas of Bangladesh, southern Nepal and northern India.

The IFRC said flood waters are receding in many areas, but there are already shortages of critical supplies, with personal food supplies swept away, crops and livelihoods ruined. Conditions are being further compounded by disease outbreaks and a lack of funds for relief activities, it said.

“We risk a terrible secondary crisis of food shortages and disease unless we get the necessary funds to provide the help that is needed immediately,” Faller said.

In Bangladesh alone, the IFRC said more than 13,000 cases of waterborne diseases, including diarrhoea as well as respiratory infections, have been reported in the affected areas over the past three weeks, Xinhua reports.

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BRCS) Secretary General Mozharul Huq said diseases such as “diarrhoea, malaria and dengue are on the rise in some areas and we need support to prevent further death and suffering”.

“We have 20 medical teams treating the ill and injured, screening for disease, but we fear that we won’t be able to reach most of the 10,000 people we hope to provide care for unless we receive further international funds and support,” said Huq.

“Many older people are telling us that these floods are the worst they have ever seen across many areas of Bangladesh and it’s going to take years to recover.”

More than 2,600 volunteers from Bangladesh Red Crescent, Nepal Red Cross and Indian Red Cross have been working alongside local authorities to provide relief and help communities prepare for further rains and floods.

“We have helped tens of thousands with provisions for temporary shelter, clean water and food, but many more need urgent help,” said Faller.

“Tens of thousands remain homeless. Many are still living in tented camps, sheltering in schools or other buildings and underneath tarpaulins. These people need our help and we are doing all we can to meet their needs. We desperately need support from partners around the world,” he added.

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