MORE than 16 million people have been affected by severe floods across South-East Asia, which have left one third of Bangladesh underwater.
About 800 people are believed to have been killed and the heavy monsoon rains have devastated communities and destroyed crops in India and Nepal as well as Bangladesh.
Tearfund’s head of Asia, Steve Collins, said: “We are seeing widespread destruction, and many families have lost everything. Food, clean water, and access to medical care are critical needs right now. Through our partners, we are distributing dry food and nutritional supplements for children; and, where we can, we have set up communal kitchens to provide daily hot meals. We are also supplying safe drinking water, hygiene kits, and are running emergency medical camps. Basic items like tents, blankets, and sleeping mats are also in demand; so we are providing many communities with these urgent items.
“During all my time in Asia, I’ve not seen anything on this scale in one country, let alone three. We are thinking now of people’s immediate needs, but the ongoing needs of those affected will be massive.”
He warned that the flooding was likely to worsen as extreme volumes of water continued to travel down from the Himalayas, and more regions were likely to be affected.
The charity is trying to reach the most vulnerable, including the lower-caste Dalits, who can be overlooked by aid initiatives. Mr Collins called for prayer for the millions affected, and donations to the charity’s disasters emergency appeal.
Aid agencies fear that levels of stagnant water will increase the risk of disease, including diphtheria, diarrhoea, and typhoid.
Save the Children is also working to bring emergency aid, including to at least 600,000 children who, it estimates, have been affected so far.