Nepal: Over 35,000 displaced by floods in southeast
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||22 August 2008|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Nepal: Over 35,000 displaced by floods in southeast, 22 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48b3b21b1c.html [accessed 18 December 2014]|
KATHMANDU, 22 August 2008 (IRIN) - Heavy flooding has displaced over 35,000 people in Sunsari District in Nepal's southeastern Terai region, officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), have said.
This number could well grow in the coming days.
"The flood-victims will need at least two months of relief support," said Biswa Prakash Pandit, senior official and joint secretary of the MOHA, during a coordination meeting among key local and international relief NGOs and UN agencies on 20 August.
Shelters are being built to provide refuge for the families who lost their homes and other properties, Pandit explained.
On 18 August, heavy monsoon rains resulted in the Koshi river - Nepal's largest - bursting its banks some 10km north of the east-west highway, flooding several village development committees (VDCs) in Sunsari, about 500km from Kathmandu.
Each VDC, the lowest level of local administration in Nepal, is comprised of nine wards and every ward has 4-7 villages.
Among the most affected VDCs are Haripur, Basantpur, Shripur, Laukahi, Pachhim Kushaha, Ghuski, Narsingh and Madhuwan, according to a situation report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Rescue, evacuation efforts
"With the increasing threats on human life, our staff are on high alert to help the affected families," said Sanjeev Kafle, director of the disaster unit of the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS), one of the most active national humanitarian agencies involved in rescuing and providing relief to flood victims.
According to the NRCS, over 10,000 people in Sunsari District were evacuated with the help of the Nepalese army and police over the last three days. Many sought refuge in schools, colleges and public buildings in the district's Inaruwa Municipality.
Apart from the NRCS, relief response and assessment is being conducted by over 20 international and national agencies.
The Nepalese government has also been providing aid through the Prime Minister's Natural Disaster Relief Fund, according to government officials.
But huge challenges remain in helping the increasing number of displaced families while distributing relief, according to OCHA Nepal.
Many who are living with relatives, friends, or in school buildings, will return and need relief aid soon, and it is expected that they will remain displaced for over four weeks.
"Contingency plans and relief supply stocks are in place and there is a need to improve field level coordination among key stakeholders to help the affected families," said Niranjan Tamrakar, OCHA Nepal's national natural disaster response and preparedness adviser.
Sufficient stocks of medicines have also been sent to Sunsari to control any possible disease epidemic. The World Health Organization has already sent medical kits for one month, targeting 20,000 people.
Relief agencies, however, also face access and logistical challenges due to the unstable political situation in the southeastern region as a result of frequent strikes and the existence of armed political groups and criminal gangs.