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“We live in a global world and there is a lot going on out there at the moment, but people should know about what is happening here.”
For the past week, New Zealand Red Cross aid worker Hanna Butler has been visiting areas in north India devastated by monsoon flooding that has already killed more than 1200 people across three countries and is affecting more than 41 million people.
Hanna is one of three Kiwis working with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the response. She says there was no warning and people had to flee their homes with only what they could carry.
While the floodwaters are starting to recede in some places, millions of people are in urgent need of assistance in terms of food, shelter, clean drinking water and medical treatment.
Corinne Ambler is in Bangladesh where up to two-thirds of the country is under water and more than 1,200 Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers have so far provided more than 36,000 people with dry food and clean drinking water, and more than 2,100 people with medical treatment.
“I knew the floods were devastating but it wasn’t until I was on the ground and saw it for myself that I grasped the full extent of the disaster,” Corinne says. “People have been waiting days for food and clean water.”
Laal Banu, 40, camped on an embankment with her five children, sheltering under plastic sheeting for six hours as the floodwaters rose around them. They lost their home and cattle that they were planning to sell during Eid.
“I do not know how long it will take us to get back to normal life,” she says.
The house of Abdul Sobhan, 65, and his wife was inundated with waist-deep water and since the floods he has been drinking either flood water or rain water. He was happy to receive food and safe water from the Bangladesh Red Crescent.
The IFRC has released two emergency appeals totalling NZ$11.9 million - one for Bangladesh and one for Nepal – in order to assist more than 230,000 people in the two countries through provision of items such as blankets, buckets and kitchen sets, cash assistance, medical treatment and shelter repairs.
“I hope people don’t forget about Bangladesh,” Corinne says. “They may be used to a bit of flooding but this time it’s different, it’s the worst they have seen in more than 40 years. The young Bangladesh Red Crescent Society volunteers are doing an amazing job.”
For more photos and stories from Bangladesh and India take a look at our Facebook album