Patna, India, Jul 19, 2019 / 10:44 am (CNA).- Catholic Relief Services is working with local partners to provide aid amid severe flooding and landslides in parts of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, the group said Thursday.
“The most immediate need right now is clean water and food,” said Caroline Brennan, director of communications for CRS’ humanitarian response team, in a July 18 statement.
“With wells flooded, people aren’t able to access water that’s safe to drink, safe to bathe with, or safe to give to their livestock. Until the water recedes, people in the heavily affected areas are going to need ways of getting enough food to feed their families. Their livelihoods, especially for farmers, are also at risk,” she said.
Heavy rainfall, beginning over a week ago, has led to flooding and landslides that have cut off routes for emergency aid, CRS says, necessitating the use of boats to provide aid in some areas. The aid group UNICEF estimates that more than 12 million people, including about five million children have been affected.
Estimates of the number of casualties vary widely, with officials from various affected countries reporting at least 227 dead, according to CNN. UNICEF is reporting at least 93 children are among the dead.
At particular risk are an estimated 1 million Rohyngia Muslim refugees, who have fled persecution in Burma and are currently in camps in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, CRS reports, roads have been washed away, houses have collapsed and croplands have been submerged leaving more than 20,000 families in urgent need of support. More than 4.3 million people are in urgent need of support in one northeastern region of India alone, the group says.
Access to food is a major concern, as many croplands in the region have been underwater for more than six days, leading to fears that farmers may not be able to harvest.