Thousands of children are at risk of disease in the wake of monsoon flooding that has left them stranded in mountainous terrain, Save the Children has warned.
Early monsoon rains triggered devastating floods that washed away entire villages and destroyed more than 1,000 roads and 100 bridges. It is feared that more than 750 people have lost their lives in the flooding, including women and children. More than 150,000 people are believed to have been displaced by the so-called “Himalayan Tsunami”, which hit the state of Uttarakhand 10 days ago.
Large numbers of livestock were killed in disaster, and there are now concerns that their festering corpses, combined with stagnant floodwater, could trigger an outbreak of potentially lethal diseases in the stricken area.
Save the Children’s India Director of Programmes, Latha Caleb, said: “Our teams are finding families sheltering wherever they can without food, water or medicine. With families crammed together amid the floodwater, disease outbreaks are a huge concern. The children our teams are helping are terrified, with some having witnessed their homes and all their possessions swept away. Now they are trapped beyond the reach of medicines, and we already know that illnesses are costing children’s lives. With more rain forecast, the weather is going to have a major impact on relief efforts.”
The floods have left children at an increased risk of diarrhea, fever and skin infections, which for the youngest could prove fatal. Limited access to health services for pregnant women, newborn and lactating mothers are also of grave concern, as pregnancy and childbirth are critical periods for the survival of women and babies.
Adverse weather conditions are hampering the aid effort, with Indian Army helicopters grounded by heavy rain and strong winds over the mountains, and more poor conditions are forecast which could further impact the ability of families to seek medical attention if they become sick.
Save the Children teams are on the ground, working with the government and other agencies to distribute food, medicine, essential aid and helping children back into education to those caught up in the disaster.
EndsSave the Children has spokespeople available for interviews. Please contact Devendra Tak at firstname.lastname@example.org or +91 9811168488.
Save the Children works in 120 countries. We save children's lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential.