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Three million children face starvation, disease and displacement from South Asia floods

Flooding chaos: Young women paddle a makeshift raft past submerged houses in the flooded village of Karbi Anglong, India, on July 11. Photo: CNS

SOUTH Asia was battered by more than a week of monsoon rains, leading to major flooding in three countries and affecting 3.2 million children.

But the monsoon season is just starting and the region is teetering on the edge of a humanitarian crisis.

More than 150 people are confirmed dead but hundreds more remain missing and the death toll is likely to increase.

In India’s north-eastern state of Assam, more than 4000 villages are flooded.

Save the Children India program and policy director Anindit Roy said the organisation aimed to reach 15,000 children in Assam immediately with life-saving aid including temporary shelter, water, hygiene and sanitation services.

“Our teams on the ground say roads are blocked and power is out, making it very difficult to access towns and villages cut off from the outside world,” Mr Roy said.

“Working with the government and our local partners (is) our priority to help the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities affected by the floods.”

About 4.3 million people have been directly affected, more than a 10th of the state’s total population, including 1.72 million children.

In northern Bihar state, a further one million children are affected.

Save the Children warns more bad weather as the monsoonal season continues could result in a humanitarian crisis leading to further death, injury, mass displacement and spread of water-borne disease.

Bangladesh is also reeling from the first heavy rains of the monsoon season, with the north-eastern part of the country bordering India the worst affected.

Nearly one million people, including more than 400,000 children are among those directly impacted, with 17 out of the country’s 64 districts flooded.

Save the Children Bangladesh deputy country director Dr Ishtiaq Mannan said they were used to extreme weather in Bangladesh.

“But what is most alarming is the frequency of flooding caused by heavy rainfall,” he said.

“We believe the increasing intensity and unpredictability of our weather patterns are caused by climate change.

“Children are disproportionately affected by such calamities, (and) more vulnerable to disease, injury, displacement and hunger.

“We are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of millions of children living in the most remote areas of Bangladesh.

“Lingering monsoons, rising sea levels and frequent flash floods could increasingly put these children’s lives at risk.”

Rohingya refugees living in flimsy bamboo shelters in Cox’s Bazar, in south-eastern Bangladesh, have had a bad situation turn worse.

More than 6000 Rohingya refugees have been displaced by the rainfall because their shelters were either partially or completely destroyed.

Cox’s Bazar response team leader David Skinner said their teams were rushing to repair dozens of damaged structures.

“At least 90 of Save the Children’s facilities have been damaged including dozens of our learning centres and child-friendly spaces,” he said.

“It’s vital we get these up and running as soon as possible because these are often the only places Rohingya children can learn and play in a safe and supportive environment.”

Severe flooding and landslides in Nepal have left tens of thousands of people homeless and cut-off from the outside world.

Save the Children Nepal director Ned Olney said he was concerned about water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, and Hepatitis A and E breaking out.


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