40 Million People Affected by Historic Flood in South Asia

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 
NEW DELHI, India – Since August, millions of people in South Asia have been impacted by the region’s worst flood in 40 years. It is reported that around 40 million people are affected by the massive flood.
The flood leaves over 1,000 deaths in South Asia. Photo courtesy of BBC.

Over 1,400 have died so far and tens of thousands are living in tents all across the region. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states in India, the Terai region in Nepal, and Kurigram and Chimari districts in Bangladesh have been hit the worst.

In Bangladesh alone, over 8 million people are affected. It also reported that over 13,000 people are currently suffering from diarrhea and respiratory infections after the flood. According to the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, diarrhea, malaria and dengue are on the rise in some parts of the country.

In Nepal, around 1.7 million people are affected with 26,844 cases of illness around the country. Although no epidemic has been reported, many health officials are taking extreme caution and monitoring the situation closely.

With the danger of mosquito and waterborne diseases, the risks are said to be greater for children and women. In India, around 17 million children were in need of humanitarian assistance.

Because the floods were so extreme, many families have been struggling to find proper burial grounds due to the lack of dry land.

Recently, the Scottish government donated from the government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund. The money is to provide any immediate and life saving aid in the region.

Reuters – Thousands hit by malaria, dengue as South Asia’s worst floods in a decade recede – 6 September, 2017

ABC – South Asia floods: Estimated 40 million across India, Bangladesh, Nepal affected – 8 September, 2017

BBC – South Asia floods: Scottish government donates £300,000 from emergency fund – 9 September, 2017

Sri Lankan Government Fully Releases IDP’s from Camps

By Alok Bhatt
Impunity Watch Reproter, Asia

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – The Sri Lankan government has at least conceded to and begun releasing the remaining internally displaced persons from war-time refugee camps.  Over 120,000 Tamil ethnic minorities have been taking refuge in government-run camps since the late defeat of the Tamil Tiger insurgency group this May.  Despite international pressure from the U.N. and various NGO’s and other human rights organizations, the Sri Lankan government has been obstinate in the full release of IDP’s from the refugee camps. 

 The Sri Lankan government has cited concerns that estranged Tamil Tigers may be hiding among the civilian Tamils.  To supposedly ameliorate the potential problems of enemy militants among the non-combatant nationals, the Sri Lankan government executed a comprehensive screening program to identify and remove Tamil Tigers from the refugee camps.  The Sri Lankan government also claimed that landmines could be located in the vicinities outside of the refugee camps and refused to release IDP’s en masse until all of them were located and safely defused or detonated.  The effectiveness of these safety measures does not seem to have been reported, but, assuming the honesty of the Sri Lankan government, its willingness of to at last release IDP’s suggests success.  

Although the Sri Lankan government has finally folded to international pressure, myriad concerns persist.  Transport out of the camps poses a significant obstacle for many who were taken to camps far away from their home.  Also, many people who have had their homes destroyed by the war or monsoon season no longer have a place to go.  Many have opted to stay in the camps, since evacuation is not compulsory.  Rather, all restrictions on IDP’s have been lifted, enabling them to enter and exit the camp areas at their whim.  

Although the camp areas are essentially open ground for the IDP’s, Sri Lankan officials have issued statements declaring that the security levels within the camps will not decrease.  

The decision to release IDP’s comes after many unfulfilled promises by the Sri Lankan government.  The full release is a significant step towards the government actively reinstituting the liberties it took from hundred-thousands of Tamil ethnic minorities by subjecting them to the derisory conditions of the refugee camps.  IDP’s continually voiced complaints about unlivable environments and a scarcity of food, clothes, and shelter.  Furthermore, the monsoon season of the summer months made the transportation of aid and other amenities quite difficult.  

Following the recent release of IDP’s, the Sri Lankan government aspires to close the refugee camps completely by the beginning of 2010.  

For more information, please see:

Al-Jazeera – Sri Lanka opens Tamil Camps – 1 December 2009

BBC News – Sri Lanka war refugees leaving military camps – 1 December 2009

The Globe and Mail – Tamil refugees free to leave Sri Lankan Camps – 1 December 2009 

Immense Flooding Devastates South Indian States

By Alok Bhatt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KARNATAKA, India – Monsoon rains catalyzed the worst flooding India has experienced in over 100 years on Monday.  India’s monsoon season annually leaves scores of flood victims dead and displaced, yet it has been decades since flooding as caused such immense destruction and alarm.  Between the southern states affected by the torrential rains, flooding has claimed the lives of over 270 victims and displaced more than 2.5 million people. 

Rescue workers responded expediently to the news of imminent tragedy.  Prior to the most intense flooding, relief organizations began reinforcing the embankments of the Krisha river with over 300,000 heavy sandbags to prevent the floodwater from penetrating the trade-center city of Vijaywada.  Rescuers also dropped rations and plastic sheets to the displaced population from helicopters.  In Andhra Pradesh, over a quarter-million people have been relocated to makeshift relief shelters.  Aid workers in Karnataka were able to move over 450,000 into similar temporary housing.  
While the government and relief workers have taken significant initiatives in their rescue mission, the relentless flooding in southern India carries risks and ramifications other than loss of property and life.  With so many people placed into temporary shelters, conditions at the shelters prove inadequate and resources scarce.  Displaced persons have questioned whether the government could have provided further amenities, but funds for improving the relief camps are currently insufficient.  The influx of rescued people into the makeshift shelters over the coming weeks will undoubtedly cause overcrowding issues while the government strains for the money to accommodate the homeless and rebuild the rain-ravaged cities.  Also, flooding of travel-ways has made the efficient distribution of already scant resources difficult for the government and aid workers.  

Furthermore, aid workers fear the rapid spread of water-borne disease to which hundreds of thousands of people are now vulnerable.  India must also bear the significant loss of agriculture, as the monsoon flooding submerged vast acres of corn, sugarcane, paddies, and other crucial crops.  

While the Indian government continues to calculate the monetary cost of the damage, relief workers continue to provide food and shelter to the displaced, and the military works continual rescue operations.  Though the lack of necessary funds keeps rescued persons in derisory conditions, measures are being  taken to secure the lives of the displaced.  
For more information, please see:

Al-Jazeera – Millions homeless in India floods – 7 October 2009

CNN – Over 270 killed in India floods – 5 October 2009

Times of India – Flood water recedes, new worries surface – 6 October 2009

Yahoo! News – India floods leave 2.5 million homeless, 250 dead – 5 October 2009