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Situation Desperate for Residents in Flood-Stricken Regions of China - 2003-08-24

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the situation for nearly four million people in China remains dire, one month after severe floods hit 26 Chinese provinces. The agency says 150 million people have been affected by the floods.

According to hydrologists, this year's floods are among the worst ever experienced by China.

International Red Cross aid workers recently visited some of the hardest hit areas to assess conditions and needs.

The Red Cross desk officer for China, Sugai Satoshi, said the team saw hundreds of thousands of people living on dangerous dikes in damp, crowded conditions. "Twenty percent of them are staying inside tents and 80 percent, the remaining, are just under makeshift tarpaulins, it is a plastic sheeting. And they are not receiving enough food and food distribution to these is really patchy. Great efforts have been made by the provinces and the government and other relief organizations, but there is still a huge un-met need for these people," he said.

Mr. Satoshi said most flood victims have no toilets or washing facilities. He said there are growing health concerns. Temperatures are hot, and getting hotter, and pools of stagnant water are perfect breeding grounds for malaria and other water-borne diseases.

Furthermore, he said flooded fields make it impossible to plant crops. This means people will need food assistance long after the floods have subsided.

Last month, the Red Cross Federation appealed for nearly six million dollars to help 440,000 of the most vulnerable of the flood victims in China. It says it has received only 10 percent of this amount.